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Featured Conservation Plants: March 2014

March 2014:
Iris variegata intermediata ‘Gypsy Queen’

Iris variegata intermediata ‘Gypsy Queen’

This bearded Iris was bred by the horticulturalist John Salter (1798-1874), who had a passion for all things variegated. He developed it, along with ‘Fairy Queen’ and ‘Queen of May’, during the 1840s, and it was registered by the American Iris Society in 1859.

Although grown as a heritage plant in the States and New Zealand, it is seldom grown in its home country, but a few plants are now back in the UK. It was introduced to the Conservation Scheme in 2010 by a Worcestershire Group member who also belongs to the British Iris Society.

It is highly recommended by the member who grows it for its free flowering. The original plant was readily divided and the three divisions all flowered in their first year. The flower stems are excellent, with five or six flowers on each, and although smallish they are very attractive as you can see from the photograph.

At present the plants are growing in one garden on sandy soil, but more divisions are ready for wider distribution in Worcestershire this year, so that we can find out how it does on the red clay that many of us suffer from!

This attractive and robust Iris deserves to be more widely available and our aim is to do just that through the HPS Conservation Scheme as soon as practicable.

A final thought, we wonder if any HPS member knows what became of the other two Queens bred by Salter?


The Conservation scheme involves HPS members in growing these plants and documenting the best way to grow and propagate them. The plants are distributed across the country with many local groups and individual growers being involved.

The scheme is open to all HPS members. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Since the present scheme started in 1998, we have been successful in conserving over 30 plant varieties that are, in our opinion, all worthy of being grown in British gardens. However, there are still a large number of potentially garden worthy plants in need of conservation.

If you are a interested in making this (or any other of our conservation plants) available on a commercial basis, please contact the National Coordinator.


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