Friday, April 1, 2016

Tall Bearded Iris PRETENDER

 Pretender is Paul Cook's so called blue variegata that came to fame before his 'Progenitor' breeding programme.

Iris Culture and Hybridizing for Everyone. Wilma L Vallette, 1961.
A few diploid variegata had blue-violet or red-violet falls, such as Nibelungen, but most tetraploid variegata and have a reddish or brownish ones. The two exceptions are Decennial (Williamson ‘30) and Pretender. The latter came from two seedlings which both go back three or more times to Blue Boy [Ref 1] a chance seedling of aphylla, and Mr Cook is said to suspect that it's unusual combination of colours-yellow standards, violet falls-is due to some sort of interaction between genes from aphylla and variegata. Pretender is said to throw unusual seedlings, which though not too good, often have big splotches of people cover and the yellow standards, not all like a flecking caused by virus, which Mr Cook believes may also be due to aphylla-a belief strengthened when he learned that crossing Pretender with yellow or light blue pumilas gives violet or purple, showing any aphylla violet in it is not affected by pumilas inhibitor any more than that of dark violet aphylla itself. Decennial may also stem from aphylla, thanks to Mr Williamson's habit of using mixed pollen.

When we remember the clear bright blue in Snow Crystal and Blue Shimmer, which both stem from aphylla, and the blue beard adorning many of its descendants, it might seem worthwhile trying to combine it with variegata as well as blues. In them, the appearance of a violet or purple fall means that yellow is not beneath this "spot", which must be the case with Pretender, since even the light each around at spot is white, not yellow. Regardless of the fact that Louvois x dominant white gave 11 creams with white spots, as if spot was inhibited, the fact that with these few exceptions all variegata have red or brownish red "spots" shows that yellow is present beneath them, else the colour would be purple to violet not red. However, Pretender’s violet falls may not be entirely due to aphylla, as this tetraploid species could not possibly have been involved in the older diploids with purple falls-perhaps in them yellow failed to appear in the centre of the falls by natural segregation, the same as in variegata itself. 

Longfield Iris Farm, Bluffton, Indiana. Williamson Iris, 1952.
PRETENDER (Cook 1951). This Iris has proved to be the best of a series of seedlings Mr. Cook calls his "blue falled variegatas." The modified variegata coloring is both distinct and pleasing. Standards are soft medium yellow, without suffusion of other color; Falls are solid velvety purple with narrow margin of lighter color. Those who find the yellow and red of the usual variegata too harsh to use in the general Iris planting will like the more harmonious colors of this new bicolor. 35 inches. $12.00

Cooleys Gardens Silverton, Oregon. Iris for 1954
PRETENDER (Cook, 1951) Each $12.00
The best of a series of "blue-falled variegatas" from the originator of Amigo, Indiana Night, Pink Bountiful, Dreamcastle, Tranquil Moon and a multitude of famed varieties. Standards are soft yellow, falls solid velvety blue-purple with narrow lighter margin. Genuinely different ! 35 inches tall with large flowers. HM AIS, 1952.

Page 55, Schreiners 1957 Iris Lovers Catalog.
Courtesy Schreiners

Schreiner's, Route 2, Salem, Oregon. Iris Lovers Catalogue, 1957.
We are delighted with a most accurate reproduction on page 55. Marked boldly with two distinct color hues, yellow and violet, this iris is a standout for original coloring. H.M '52 A.M. '55 .....................................$7.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1953, Number 131.
Region 9 Varietal Report, Hurbert Fischer, R.V.P. III.
Notes taken during the 1953 Iris Season.
Pretender-an iris that is different with soft yellow standards and blue purple falls.

Varietal Comments from Region II
Mrs. Glen Suiter, Caldwell, Idaho
Pretender-A splendid, very different variety. Blue purple falls and yellow standards. Performing like a veteran on a first year plant. A stunner and no mistake.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1954, Number 135.
Region 9,Notes and Varietal Comment - Joplin Area
Pretender-A new race of variegatas-yellow standards and blue falls good.

Report and Varietal comments from Region 3.
Comments from J. Donavan Bolger, Morristown, Pa.
Amoena and Near Amoenas
Pretender - Pale yellow standards and deep blue falls edged yellow. Not too crazy about it.

Varietal report Hurbert Fischer, R.V.P. III.
Pretender (Cook) - Unusual and startling with soft yellow standards and velvety purple falls.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1955, Number 139.
Region Two, New York.
Mrs. W. B. Melnick.
In my own garden, Pretender stole the show, the first and last to bloom. It has medium sized flowers and tall stalks with good placement. There is lovely contrast between the bright yellow standards and I would almost say "purple" falls, though catalogs describe them as "blue".

AIS Checklist 1959
PRETENDER    (P. Cook, R. 1951). Sdlg. 7746. TB 35" M. Y4.    Yellow amber and prune-purple bicolor. Cook 1339 X Cook 5042., Longfield 1951. HM 1952; AM 1955.

[Ref 1] Blue Boy an Intermediate iris registered to Sir Michael Foster 1913. A free flowering Aphlla, Standards are violet the Falls velvety purplish violet with striking blue beard.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Major Hat Tip and "Merci beaucoup" to Catherine Adam for her sharing with you the amazing photos of the historic Tall Bearded Iris 'Pretender'.

Reproduction in whole or in part of these photo's without the expressed written permission of Catherine Adam is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Catherine Adam © .

Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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