The iris in the photo above was for a long time what I believed to be the old heirloom variety called Wabash. Now, I’m not so sure that it is. Or perhaps it was once but something about this plant is different, maybe it changed.
Wabash iris was introduced by iris hybridizer E. B. Williamson in 1936 from a cross between the iris varieties Dorothy Dietz (Williamson, 1929) and Cantabile (Williamson, 1934). It has been very popular garden iris over the years. Wabash Iris produces numerous lightly fragrant blossoms with ruffled edges on stems as tall as 40 inches from early to mid-June. The standards are snow-white and the falls deep violet edged in clear white. True Wabash Iris has foliage with distinctly purple bases.
This iris has characteristics of Wabash except for three important differences on the fall petals:
- the white reticulations on the falls extend a little more than halfway down extending well below the beard;
- there are no wine-colored patches near the base of the petals; and
- the white margins are not so clear but blend into the purple.
Also, the height of the flower stems is about 24 inches not 40 inches as in Wabash.
So, is this Wabash? I don’t think so. The source of this iris was from a flower garden in old neighborhood in Duluth, Minnesota but the owners did not know the variety. The snow white standards and purple falls with white borders and white reticulations,m the thin beard hairs, sweet fragrance, and purple leaf bases say this iris is very much like Wabash. For now, I suppose, this one will have to remain a mystery variety.