I’ll Be Back – and other rebloomers

In our collection here at Casa Nova, we have quite a number of irises reputed to be “remontant”, i.e. reblooming after the main iris season has past.  Whilst there is evidently a genetic component in this, there is also a great deal of variation in whether an iris that is genetically capable of reblooming will actually do so.  So I thought I would keep notes on which of the rebloomers live up to their reputation, and how reliably.  All of the photos in this post are taken at the time of reblooming, rather than during the main flowering season.  (This post discusses our experience of rebloomers up to summer 2016. For an update as at autumn 2016 see here. For notes on rebloomers in 2017 see here.)

Last year we had Mariposa Autumn, Rosalie Figge, and Happy New Year in flower at Christmas and New Year (see below).

So far this summer (2016), the following have rebloomed during July and August: Angelic Wings; Beverly Sills; Bockingford; Ciel Gris sur Poilly; Coalignition; Champagne Elegance; Colette Thurillet; Designer’s Art, El Cerrito; English Charm; Eternal Bliss; Florentine Silk; Honeyplic; I’ll Be Back; Immortality; Kiss of Kisses; Lugano; Marie Jose Nat; Mariposa Wizard; Medway Valley; Merit; Mesmeriser; Midsummer Night’s Dream; Pearls of Autumn; San Francisco; Saturn; Sign of Leo (in August, exactly as per the name); Treccia d’Oro; Vanity’s Child; White City.  I expect others will follow as we move into autumn.

Some observations: a disproportionate number of rebloomers seem to be white or purple. There may be a genetic explanation for that (just as broken colour seems to be genetically associated with lack of vigour, perhaps white and purple irises are more likely to have the extra vigour needed to rebloom).

The whites (especially Immortality and Angelic Wings) have been particularly good in July heat, contributing a crisp freshness, whereas in the very wet Spring we had those two varieties, and White City, were frankly pathetic, collapsing in a sodden mass and making me wonder why folk bother with them.   I’ll Be Back and Lugano both managed to perform really well under both extremes, as did Treccia d’Oro, and I shall definitely aim to build up my stocks of these. I’ll Be Back is an intermediate, with perky little white flowers with prominent orange beards. It looks lovely with Midsummer Night’s Dream, a deep blue which reblooms at the same time.  Lugano is a languidly elegant historic Tall Bearded, slightly creamy and with long falls. Pearls of Autumn did not appear to bloom at all in May but has been putting on a good display through July and into August.  The flowers are not a pure white but have an attractive opaline tint.

A couple more shots of Lugano, because I like it so much:

Of the purples, Rosalie Figge I have had for a number of years and has been completely reliable in reflowering.  New to me this year is Sign of Leo: a very pretty purple flushed with plum, which has been blooming from the beginning of August.  Notably, its stalks seem to have developed normally, whereas I notice many others of those that have rebloomed seem to have shorter and more compact stalks than in their May flowering, particularly those that have very large numbers of buds, sometimes giving the flowers a rather congested look.  One of the oddest things is that Mesmeriser, when it reflowered, completely lacked the magnificent flounces on the beards for which it is renowned.

Champagne Elegance reflowered well, but perhaps looked less happy than in May, whereas English Charm seemed to relish the heat and the colour was if anything more beautiful than in its first flowering.

Some of our Miniature Tall Bearded irises have reflowered profusely, especially Staplehurst, Medway Valley and Merit.

Medway Valley
Medway Valley

Quite a few of those that have reflowered for me this year are not listed as rebloomers (for example, Beverly Sills, Designer’s Art, El Cerrito, Florentine Silk, Honeyplic, Saturn, San Francisco,Vanity’s Child and White City).  In some cases it may be more a matter of late blooming than reblooming, in others it is a definite rebloom.  I’ll see whether they repeat the trick next year or whether this is just some aberrant behaviour on a first year after planting.  Florentine Silk has been particularly magnificent, apparently effortlessly shrugging off the challenge of looking good in shimmering July heat.

And finally, a mystery star.  This reblooming blue iris came to me as the SDB Baby Barn Owl, which it patently is not.  But I wish I knew what it was because I am delighted to have it.  It has been flowering steadily for the past three weeks, through temperatures in the 30s, interspersed with big storms and hail, and has managed to look elegant throughout.  It’s, I think, a tall intermediate in a clear lavender blue, with haft markings, and a white beard tipped with yellow in the throat.  If anyone thinks they can identify it I’d love to know.

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