The Louisiana Iris Suite
Images and reflections by Dick Sloan
'Henry Rowlan' vs. 'Black Gamecock'. Frank Chowning's 'Black Gamecock' is perhaps the most widely distributed Louisiana, sold as often by water plant nurseries and mass marketers such as Walmart and Lowe's. It is a rather small statured very dark, very vigorous, hardy Louisiana. As mentioned in the discussion about 'Finders Keepers', Frank was working for a black iris. 'Black Gamecock', 1978, is as dark as they get. 'Henry Rowlan', Mr. Faith's new introduction, seems a larger flowered, taller plant, with similar color and signal. It may never achieve the distribution of the earlier variety, but certainly is worth attention. When both bloomed, I placed a flower of 'Black Gamecock' on another iris stalk, next to 'Henry Rowlan' for comparison. The two are probably actually closer in diameter than the picture shows. 'Black Gamecock' is on the left.
'Bill Neil' is a 1993 registration by Kirk Strawn, of College Station, Texas. Strawn is better known to water gardeners for his water lilies than to iris growers for his irises. Though he registered about 50 iris cultivars during the 1990's, they have not received wide distribution. They have been listed by few commercial gardens but this does not indicate that they are inferior. 'Bill Neil' is the only one of his I grow. It has much larger than average flowers in a rich glowing shade. The Strawns are an elderly couple, and did not respond to a letter from me earlier this year asking to buy another iris. I later learned he introduces/introduced through other growers. They have attended several of the SLI conventions in Lafayette.
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