This is what I did when I was 16…

I had a pet rat called Ratticus, two green mohawks, safety pins through my ears a brown leather coat and pants held together with patches… And I used to enter my Irises into the Royal Horticultural Societies annual Rose and Iris show. I even took out a few first prizes. True story.

It was on this past weekend, so we thought we would take a trip down memory lane and go and have a squizz. The usual crowd, me, mum and dad, but this time we had a couple of ring in’s, Erika and Charlie. Perhaps Erika will grow up to develop an obsession with Irises and in another 7 years I will be driving her around while she enters flower shows, and then on the weekends drive around getting her out of trouble… Yay, really looking forward to the teenage years!

Irises is where my fascination with plants came from I think. Mum and dad were gardeners and somehow I got into it too. I was one eyed though, I had to collect ALL the Irises. I even joined the North American Iris society and got seed from species native to the Americas and tried to grow them, I had no luck though. It began with Tall Bearded Iris. I had hundreds of them! All listed in my little book and labelled through the garden. Then I tried my hand at hybridising them, taught myself a bit of basic genetics and learnt about a few traits and if they were dominant or recessive. I think in the end I just crossed any that were ready at the same time. Unfortunalty it takes a few years to get them to flowering stage, and by that time I had packed up and moved to Melbourne and gave them all away… So somewhere out there, there is someone who is growing my hybrids…

I was also obsessed with species Iris too, I think I had about 25 species at one point, which was a lot back then. I so wish my memory was better, I used to know so much about the genus Iris, all the sub genera and the species and how they were different and where they came from… I was passionate about the taxonomy and getting it right, and would get upset when someone called something like a Dietes an Iris… Just because it is in the family Iridaceae does NOT make it an Iris… sheez people…

The show was exactly the same as it was 20 years ago. The only difference I noticed was they provide vases now. We had to bring our own and it was always a hunt for the best container to hold a heavy stem with 3 or 4 flowers. They have it easy these days…

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