AGNES WHITING

Time moves on-and on-inexorably, and we all know it too well; but there are no words in our language but numb shock that describe the feeling of the iris world when the news came of the death of Agnes Whiting.
....Agnes Whiting, the gracious hostess of the husband-and-wife team of the Maple Valley Gardens of Charles and Agnes Whiting, was in the forefront of those golden years which saw the rapid growth in beauty and garden popularity of irises, and her efforts at hybridizing contributed incalculably to the fantastic rapidity of the development of irises as a truly worthy garden plant.
....Her BLUE RHYTHM, that cornflower blue with a silvery overtone, perhaps the most award winning iris of history, is grown and shown widely all over America-indeed, all over the iris growing world-and will be grown for years to come because of its superb garden value. But who of those who lived through the golden years of development of the '40s and the '50s does not recall with nostalgia such names as ARAB CHIEF, BAGHDAD, CLOTH OF GOLD, GARDEN GLORY, GOLDEN SPIKE, GOLD SOVEREIGN, LILAC LANE, MAY-TIME, PATHFINDER, PRISCILLA, PINK CLOVER, RAEJEAN, ROCKET, RUBIENT TECHNICOLOR, TEA ROSE, THREE OAKS, VATICAN PURPLE and WINGS OF SONG, and many others. And some of us who were privileged to see the first full bloom of a stalk of VIOLET RHYTHM, swore that this was the best of all, and suggested that she call it ONE BOUQUET, for a stalk in full bloom was precisely that.
....She won many awards with the irises she hybridized, and the crowning achievement came with BLUE RHYTHM winning the Dykes and the President's Cup in 1950. Subsequently, it won two English awards, one the coveted first class certificate. Her CLOTH OF GOLD, GARDEN GLORY, GOLDEN SPIKE, GOLD SOVEREIGN, LILAC LANE, MAYTIME, ROCKET, PRISCILLA and THREE OAKS all won the AM award.
....And in 1947 there came to her the highest award of the American Iris Society, the Hybridizer's Medal of the Society; and she thus became the first woman to receive this distinguished award.
....Agnes Whiting was gracious and kindly, and there are many of us can testify that our present deep interest in irises stems from her encouragement and interest. The home garden where she and Charles maintained their display garden was an immaculate and lovely home for the best in present-day irises, and thousands of visitors came to see the Whitings and their irises. It was the mecca where gathered the judges of Iowa and Nebraska and the neighboring states to see the latest arid best in the kingdom of iris; but there also gathered visitors from all over the world.
....The qualities which Agnes Whiting achieved in her introductions will live on and on in the work that other hybridizers have done with her developments. It is a tribute to her and to her work that these qualities she built into her irises other foremost hybridizers recognized, and used for further development. Examples can be cited by the legion: the use of GARDEN GLORY and TECHNICOLOR in the reds; BLUE RHYTHM in the blue field; GOLDEN SPIKE in some of the new yellows; and PATHFINDER in the orchid pink and similar colors, finally resulting in the achievement of AMETHYST FLAME. This is the mark of one who builds well; and building well is the indelible mark of Agnes Whiting.

 Agnes and Charles Whiting in their garden

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 Agnes and Charles Whiting in their garden

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 Photo furnished courtesy Schreiner's Gardens--Dave Schreiner