Brian Shamblin lives in Athens, Georgia and currently serves as the editor for the Fleur de Lis, the journal of the Society for Louisiana Irises. He purchased his first irises from Sherry Seabrook in Florida in 2003. Shortly thereafter, seeing the diversity of flower shapes and colors during a trip to Iris City Gardens, near Nashville, solidified his interest in these southeastern U.S. natives. He joined the Society for Louisiana Irises and started seriously collecting. After trialing about 500 cultivars, he was inspired to make his first crosses in 2014 in search of new flower colors and patterns. The seedlings from these early crosses turned out to be duds, but the drive to create something improved and unique was addictive. The anticipation of seeing new seedlings open for the first time evoked memories of waiting to open presents on Christmas morning.
Brian’s main garden is 3 hours north in Tennessee. A decade of long distance gardening has meant that none of the cultivars or seedlings get babied, and the garden often looks like a jungle of weeds after bloom season. This neglect has proven educational, with some plants handling it better than others. Seeing this variation motivated Brian to identify good garden plants that grow and bloom well with little care. He tests all reselect seedlings in garden beds with lightly amended soil and minimal supplemental water to identify the plants that can perform well under average garden conditions. Another goal is improving bud counts in Louisiana iris by identifying seedlings the carry double sockets. This means that each position on the flower stalk can have two flowers that bloom several days apart. Most Louisiana iris produce double buds at the top position of the bloom stalk only, so the typical stalk might only have four or five flowers. With double sockets, it’s possible to see eight or more flowers per stalk, extending the bloom season. Finally, any sturdy plants that display unusual color patterns or features such as serrated petals are at the top of the list.
Brian registered 10 irises in 2023, representing some of the best and most unique of over 1,000 seedlings, mostly from 2016 and 2017 crosses. Hopefully there will be more that prove worthy among the 2019 and 2020 seedlings. This has been an interesting journey, and he awaits each spring’s potential like a kid waiting for Christmas.
We are pleased to release 5 of Brian's introductions in 2024.