By Emily West, Correspondent
The Belton Iris Society of the City of Belton (BIS) held its annual Iris Show in the fellowship hall of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church this past Saturday, drawing the local gardeners to come and view the many entries. After the show, the BIS held a “taco bar” luncheon for all the attendees and contestants. The BIS’s president, Karen Woods, urged Belton locals to attend their future events, saying: “everything we do is open to the public– you don’t have to be a member.”
“We are related to the American Iris Society. It’s actually an international organization, now, so we’ve even got people from Australia, and we’re in Region 17, which is just Texas. We’re one of 15 or so others,” Woods said. “We have a handbook for judges and show officials and it will literally tell you how each aspect of the flower should look. There are different categories of Iris, such as standard dwarves or miniatures, so, some bloom earlier than others… Although there are many different types, most people think of the Tall Bearded variety when they hear the word ‘iris.’”
Gary Whitis of Temple Texas entered his Easter Candy variety Tall Bearded Iris and took Best in Show, ranking above over 50 other entries.
Judges circled the room, scrutinizing the blooms in each vase with vigilant attention to detail. Each variety has its own set of standards on which it is judged for shows, and these standards cover every aspect of the flower: form and color of the stem; form and color of the leaves; form, color and size ratios of the head; and many other minutia. “The judges all have their own little kinks,” Woods explained, as the judges moved from entry to entry. Many entries were very closely tailored. The gardeners meticulously removed all insects with a toothpick and even wiped down the stems with clean cloths to remove the fingerprints that can sometimes be visible there. Many entries even went so far as to trim off the brown tips of the leaves in a specific shape and at a specific angle, so that they would still look like healthy, mature leaves.
Categories at the show included Historics (in which a bloom hybridized in the year 1933 could be found), Artistic Design, and Photography, in addition to all the standard variety categories. The themes for the Artistic Design presentations this year were “Irises for My Mother” and “Irises in Texas,” but these entries are judged solely on presentations: entrants need not have grown the displayed blooms.