The Barbara Nicodemus Garden

My favorite indulgence as an iris judge is to visit a hybridizer’s garden and walk the seedling rows.  This was my second visit to this wonderful iris garden in western Missouri and due to problems at my day job, it was the only out of state trip of the spring bloom season this year.  A trip to Barbara’s wonderful garden is never a disappointment.

She and husband Richard are wonderful friends and they always treat me like royalty!

I try to alternate my visits between the Nicodemus garden and the Marvin Davis garden in Indiana to have a clear picture of what the future holds in the way of new tall bearded introductions..

The long rolling hills, the broadleaf trees and lush green grasses of western Missouri make for a very special place of beauty.  She grows many named varieties --- each carefully cared for and freshly weeded – but the quality of her seedlings are to die for!! Barbara has silently been spreading pollen for a number of years and in spite of serious illness, she has established per priorities and the iris garden looked magnificent!!

You are already familiar with her previous introductions: Ozark Rebounder, Crimson Lights, Smoldering Fire and Vivacious Vixen.  The 2005 productions include Marjorie Gayer , Sugar Creek Blues,  Voltaire’s Cloak and  Passion for Lace (the first introduction from her intensely laced lines with high bud count).

My quest was to participate in the final selection process, helping choose which seedlings to save, line out and propagate for future introduction.  One can never keep ALL the seedlings, so it was a real chore to decide which seedlings to destroy because of the very high percentage of beautiful seedlings.  I can safely say that I have never been in an iris hybridizer’s garden ANYWHERE with such a high percentage of beautifully formed flowers.  Such success is no accident.  It is a testimony of her hard work 52 weeks of every year in reaching her hybridizing goals and dreams.   Amazing!!

Seedling #F-1 (Tempting Fate x Indigo Princess) has been named FABULOUS ONE by Ron Mullin) and is the richest, deepest, deep blue neglecta yet seen.  The flowers are so very wide, the colors are so breathtaking, and the big, lush, husky plants are the very best!  Look for this one for it is wonderful!

TOUCHING MOMENTS (Smiling Angel x  Peace & Harmony) is Barbara’s first pure white selection which I hope you will see very soon  in your gardens.  Branched and well budded stalks display the crisp white flowers to perfection and the plants are clean with deep green foliage.   And this beauty is just the beginning of her white creations --- there are more with wide petals, overlapping haftsand  lace with lush, clean plants.

Seedling #E-A-1 (Country Moon x Feature Attraction) was in bloom here in Tennessee when I left for Missouri and it is still in bloom here two weeks after my return.  These large flowers have stalks with up to 10 buds.  The intensely laced flowers touch at the hafts; the standards are soft orchid and the falls are full lavender violet.  Once again, the plants are large and robust with excellent increase. 

For those interested in the art of hybridizing, I shall list and describe the newly selected seedlings of introductory quality, including simple parentage.  Keep in mind that these are all first year seedlings observed and tagged on a 2 day visit!!

Seedling #I-13R (Fabulous One x Thunder Spirit) is a huge, wide, ruffled, deep. waxy black-purple with ever-so-slightly-lighter standards..  There is no other color.  The hafts touch and every petal is pleated and ultra ruffled on these perfectly formed flowers..  Husky purple based foliage produces strong stalks with 2 and 3 branches.

Seedling # G-46-3 (Sea Power x Sierra Grande) is another with touching hafts, perfectly pleated petals on huge flowers. With slightly open standards, the flowers are medium blue with frost beards and slightly paler petal edges.  Stalks have 3 branches, 2 spurs and 10 plus buds.  Wide, lush foliage and thick stalks support the large flowers well.

Barbara has been working with Sierra Grande for several years and she has certainly created a top notch improvement on this Schreiner classic.  Believe me, it is faultless!

Seedling #H-8 (Ann Blocher x Fogbound) is a snowy white with yellow beards.  All petals are laced and ruffled.  Very wide, huge flowers with touching hafs  have falls that flare  gracefully; stalks have 2 branches, spur and 8-9 buds.

Barbara was plenty busy spreading pollen and repeating a cross which was yielding really interesting flowers (Ozark Rebounder x Starring).  Ozark Rebounder loves setting seed pods and there were two newly opened beauties  capturing my attention!  The first one had oyster standards,  purple wine falls, sienna beards, with styles a combination of oyster and antique gold.  The second seedlings had lavender standards, purple falls with clean white shoulder lines, purple and white beards with antique gold in the throat.

Seedling # J-R-1 (Honky Tonk Blues x Fabulous One) gave two selections which I considered unique and outstanding – not like the typical pattern from Honky Tonk Blues.

One had soft blue standards with deeper blue stains; falls were bright blue violet—no patterning – with matching bright blue beards. Stalks had 2 branches, spur and 7 buds.

The second selection in this cross had the same coloring in the standards but the falls were deep, deep, clean purple.  Stalks, branching and bud count were identical.

Seedling #J-38-R (Indigo Princess x Tempting Fate)  yielded a lovely rounded, flaring, lightly pleated flower in magenta-toned purple.  The spotless foliage is purple based, the plants showed excellent increase and the stalks had 2 branches, spur and 6-8 buds.

Seedling #J-68 ((Riversong x #D2-30) was deep violet – the color of the darkest wild violets that grow here in the east.  The flowers were pleated and ruffled with touching hafts.  There was no other color or  tint present.  The stalks had 3 branches, spur and 8 buds.  What a wonderful, new color of violet for the iris world!

Seedling #J-28 (Holly Golightly x Kathleen Kay Nelson) was purest full blue; beards are lightly brushed soft gold in the center.  Ruffled, gorgeously formed flowers with touching hafts; stalks have 2 branches, spur and 8 buds.  (And after MANY tries with Kathleen Kay Nelson, this was the ONLY selection kept!)

Seedling J-3 (World Premiere x Sugar Creek Blues) was another with overlapping hafts.  The standards are white; falls are soft violet blue.  It is very ruffled and the exact color here is certainly different and unique in the iris world.  Stalks have 3 branches, spur and 7-9 buds.

Seedling #J-53 (#H20 x #D16-1) is pale white with lavender tints.  Violet veining subtly patterns the touching hafts.  Ruffles and light lace.

Seedling #J-69 (Come to Paris x #G30) has standards that are lavender with texture veining; near white falls have white beards that are yellow in throat.  The ruffling is to the extreme and there is lace on all peals.  Wow!!  Stalks have 2 branches, spur and 6 buds.

Seedling #J-80  (#E1A x #D28) has lavender white standards and deep orchid falls.  Its intense and heavy lace obviously comes from its mom and this gorgeous iris had 3 branches and spur with 10 magnificent flowers per stalk!

Seedling #J-14 (Christmas x Frison-Roche) was a huge, sculpted, very wide white with ivory beards.  Faultless flower form, wide bladed plants and stalks with 2 branches, spur and 8 buds.

Seedling #H-80-2 (Ann Blocher x Fogbound) is THE white we are all waiting for! I failed to record the parentage, but it is  wide, large, heavily laced with soft golden beards.  Touching hafts, huge flowers and stalk have 2 branches, spur and 7 buds.  I have not seen such heavy bloom on a white iris since I grew Piety 35 years ago.  This is to die for!  (Barbara has a name picked already, but I dare not say a word until the registrar signs off on it.!

Who is Barbara Nicodemus?  What is she doing in quiet little Buffalo, Missouri?  Now you know!  Let there be no doubt that she is among the most talented of hybridizer’s in the world of Tall Bearded Irises!  Long live Barbara Nicodemus!