Ipswich iris breeder's top award

ROSES are red, violets are blue, but Barry Emmerson's irises come in any shade or hue. Possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of the stunning flower the 52-year-old has scooped a top award that has cemented his position as one of the top iris breeders in the UK.

ROSES are red, violets are blue, but Barry Emmerson's irises come in any shade or hue.

Possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of the stunning flower the 52-year-old has scooped a top award that has cemented his position as one of the top iris breeders in the UK.

Mr Emmerson, who works at Victoria Nurseries in Westerfield Road, Ipswich, has won the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for his purple iris named “Reg Wall”. The accolade has come after he bred the unique flower from other varieties.

The honour is a highly prestigious one, with only around 10 or 15 iris breeds being given the award each year.

“It is the first major award I have won,” said Mr Emmerson, who lives in Leiston. “It has been a fantastic year for me.”

Mr Emmerson already ranks in the top 10 Iris growers in the land and is also among the leading hybridisers - experts who create their own varieties of iris through breeding.

Most Read

He now has his sights set on winning international awards and is hoping to make a mark at the prestigious International Iris Show in Florence this year.

Just like his entry for the Royal Horticultural Award, the irises he has entered for the Florence show are judged over a period of four years to make sure only the cream of the crop are rewarded.

Mr Emmerson first got interested in irises back in 1990 after seeing some at the Suffolk Show.

He started growing them soon after flowers and began breeding them in 1993. He now gives talks on irises across the county.

“It can be very difficult to breed a flower because it is not like mixing paint,” Mr Emmerson said.

“If you mix blue and white paint you will get a light blue but if you mix blue and white flowers you will get white because that is the dominant gene.

“I bred a black iris but it took a very long time because you will start with a purple flower and keep breeding the darkest flowers and the shade gradually turns to black.

“I hope I can win at Florence but it will be very difficult because there is lots of competition.

“So far the Royal Horticultural Award is the pinnacle of my career though.”

Mr Emmerson's winning iris Reg Wall will be going on sale at Victoria Nurseries.

Weblinks:

www.rhs.org.uk

www.irises.co.uk

Fact file:

The name iris means 'rainbow' in Greek.

Irises grow well in a variety of different places, including deserts, by the banks of streams, in gardens, meadows and on grassy slopes.

The iris is the state flower of Tennessee and it's also the national emblem of France.

Irises have been a source of inspiration for some of the world's great painters, like Vincent Van Gogh.

Irises are relatively easy to grow, even for the most inexperienced of gardeners.

Irises are typically associated with spring, but nowadays they're generally available all year round.

If you rub together the leaves of the Stinking iris (Iris foetidissima), it emits an unpleasant smell.

Source: www hotfact.com

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter