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Dr. Kleinsorge’s Garden

by Melba B. Hamblen

Convention garden visit report, reprinted from AIS Bulletin #156, July 1960.

Entering Dr. Kleinsorge’s garden for the first time gave one the happy, secure feeling of coming home to familiar surroundings; for there to greet Convention visitors were GYPSY, CASCADE SPLENDOR, BALLET DANCER, TOBACCO ROAD and other well-loved irises. Growing in huge clumps, just coming into bloom with promise of many specimen stalks, the irises in this garden were a tribute to the Doctor’s ability in growing iris in the same soil year after year.

Dr. Kleinsorge in his garden
Dr. R.E. Kleinsorge in his garden.
Below: Photos of Dr. Kleinsorge’s garden from Cooley’s Gardens catalogs.

Without a doubt, Dr. Kleinsorge’s is one of the smallest seedling beds in the entire iris world. And probably more prize-winning iris have originated in his compact garden (something like 40 Award of Merit winners) than in any garden, regardless of size. To visit and render homage to this great irisarian was one of the convention highlights. CASCADE SPLENDOR, which could well be Dr. Kleinsorge’s best iris, was outstanding. Tall, with beautiful branching, carrying nine and ten buds, this rosy-tan blend is characterized by the lilting curl of the fall petals; a characteristic that could almost be called a trademark, since CASCADE SPLENDOR passes this trait on to her children.

Dr. Kleinsorge's iris gardenBALLET DANCER, also a blended tan, with horizontal flaring falls, was equally outstanding. Saucy and pert, BALLET DANCER was holding her own with iris of much more recent vintage. Of late, petal width has taken on great im¬portance; the wide petals of BALLET DANCER will not be easily surpassed. TOBACCO ROAD, which was our first real brown iris, was in perfect form, rich in color, well grown and fairly tall. GYPSY, brightest of bright variegatas, was taller than any other, making a splash of color that carried across the garden. Beautiful clumps of Siberians; PERRY’S BLUE, CAESAR’S BROTHER, ROYAL ENSIGN and SNOW CREST were mute evidence of the beauty to be found in other species of iris.

Dr. Kleinsorge's iris gardenJust across the way, is the Doctor’s lovely Colonial home. He has lived here since 1914. The home garden was landscaped by Howard Weed, and a more beautiful spot would be difficult to find. Filled with rare plants and shrubbery, but growing many of the old favorite plants, this garden creates again the feeling of familiarity. In profusion were forget-me-nots and primroses, hostas and ferns, peonies and bittersweet, with lordly white oaks of immense size and unsurpassed beauty stretching their protective branches over all. Queen of this show was PRINCESS BEATRICE, who holds the distinctive honor of being the first iris grown by Dr. Kleinsorge. Rumor has it, that she was his inspiration as weil as his delight, and that it was she who started him along the rainbow trail. Growing in a perfect setting, created (surely) just for her, she radiated serenity. Could this serenity be attributed to the fact that the first rosy-violet blossom, of rounded full form, had opened for this convention day?

~ Reprinted from AIS Bulletin #156, July 1960.

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