A HIPS Breeder Collection contains irises that were all bred by one person, and at least one of those irises meets the current HIPS definition of “historic.”  A historic iris is currently defined as being 30 years old or more, based on either registration or introduction date.

Aside from that, there are only three absolute requirements.  The collection holder MUST:

– be a HIPS member.
An e-membership is only $12 per year, worldwide.  You can sign up on the HIPS website.

– report historic iris holdings to the HIPS Databank.
Since we don’t propose to collect separate information about your breeder collection, this is absolutely necessary.

– agree to share the irises in your breeder collection with other HIPS members.
When they’re ready to divide, you could donate some to the HIPS sale, distribute them via the Guardian Gardens network if appropriate, arrange swaps or even sales via the HIPS forums, or whatever works for you.  We’re not saying you have to give them away, just that they must be made available once in a while, particularly to other members who collect irises by the same breeder. For those of you who garden outside the US: You’re welcome to join the Breeder Collections program, even if you can’t easily share irises with US HIPS members. Please make sure you share with other historic iris lovers in your own country (whether they’re HIPS members or not) and encourage them to join HIPS. When we can, we’ll work on exchanging at least the super-rare irises. HIPS has begun working on this kind of exchange program, and we will continue to explore the possibilities.

Four strong suggestions (HIPS can help with all of these):

– Practice the best iris husbandry you can.  Lots of resources are available to help teach you to do this.  If people are kind enough to send you free irises to help with your collection, you should do your best to keep those irises alive and blooming.

– Make a reasonable effort to confirm identity.  There is no point in a collection full of the wrong irises.  HIPS has an ID committee and other resources. The HIPS Iris ID Help Facebook page is a great starting point.

– Mark and map your irises carefully, so someone other than you could find them if need be.  See this article about garden markers, reprinted from ROOTS.

– Make provisions in advance for your irises when you can no longer care for them.  Suggestions are available on our Posterity Planning page.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  Do I have to collect ALL the irises by a breeder?
A:  No.  You can subdivide by decade, color, or some other stated attribute.  That said, if you only have room for 20 irises, you may wish to choose a breeder who didn’t introduce hundreds of irises.  If you do choose to collect 20 irises by a breeder who introduced hundreds, it would be best if they were not the 20 most common ones, though we won’t exclude you from the program if that’s truly what you want to grow.

Q: What about other kinds of collections, like colors or geographic names?
A: We could consider including those.  For example, I collect diploid or early tetraploid variegatas; historic whites with yellow shoulders; and historic luminatas.  Each of those color classes contains irises by many breeders.  We could consider expanding to include this kind of Preservation Collection when the Breeder Collection program is up and running.

Q: Do I have to allow my name to be published on the website?
A: No, you don’t.  We encourage people to come out of the iris closet and admit to holding a collection so HIPS members can help locate irises for you, but if you prefer to use an alias on the list shown on the HIPS website, that’s fine.  Of course the Breeder Collection committee members will need your real name and contact information.

Other thoughts & suggestions:

– Our program is meant to augment, not replace or compete with, the Guardian Gardens and National Collections programs.  The same irises can potentially count for all three programs, depending on what you are interested in doing and whether you meet those program criteria.

– You may wish to join the HIPS Display Garden Program or the Display Gardens programs of other AIS sections; these are not mutually exclusive.

– We encourage all Breeder Collection holders to keep track of iris provenance as far back as you can learn it; this helps credibility.

– Please take lots of photos from several angles & including base of plant to show PBF or lack of it.  Take high-resolution photos if you can, then copy those photos and put in a lower-resolution form if you wish to email or post them.

Shots that are most useful include:

  • a close-up with a fall forward (the classic glamor shot);
  • a close-up with standard forward;
  • a close-up from the top, showing style arms and beards (you may need to hold the standards open);
  • a clump shot, showing branching, foliage, and general habit;
  • a close-up of foliage base at bloom time showing pbf (purple basal foliage) or lack of it;
  • any other purple on foliage (wire edge on leaf, purple bud spathes, etc.).

This program belongs to HIPS members and its organization is a work in progress; we are always open to suggestions.  Have fun with it!

Donita McDonald
Program Administrator

[email protected]