Anne Milner presents her family history intertwined with the history of Bliss’s irises, which are now part of the Plant Heritage family of National Collections of plants worth preserving.
Bliss Irises combines family history and gardening in a unique and very personal journey. Initially triggered by interest in her great, great grandfather who built the Bliss Tweed Mill in Chipping Norton, Anne Milner discovered Arthur J. Bliss, a cousin of a grandfather, and his work with early 20th century irises. Having travelled to New Zealand and South Africa, Arthur had many adventures before becoming famous in the horticultural world for breeding and introducing ‘Dominion’, an iris that took the world by storm when it was first introduced in 1917. It has since gone on to be found in the pedigree of hundreds of modern irises.
With stunning photographs, watercolours and line drawings throughout, the second part of Bliss Irises focuses on the flowers themselves and details the range of irises registered by Anne Milner’s ancestor Arthur Bliss.
Bliss Irises will appeal to readers with an interest in irises, historic plants and family history, as well as those with a more general interest in gardening and horticulture.
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Arthur J. Bliss irises will be for sale at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show where Anne will be sharing a stand with Sarah Cook and her Sir Cedric Morris irises. Come and see us in the floral marquee on stand PH309.
Such a lovely book! It arrived yesterday, and though I've just riffled through it I can say I am impressed. I like the arrangement of the "elements" and can hardly wait for the opportunity to settle into a comfortable chair for "a good read." The initial history part will come first, as there's much information there that will be new to me. For example, it was a treat to see the actual Mrs. Valerie West! The time, energy, and research it represents are truly daunting--and worth it all for us readers.
I am already reading it, to heck with housework! It's such an appealing book, you should be so proud of this work, another valuable guide for historic iris lovers! I am just bowled over by how fantastic this book is! Firstly the photos and illustrations are stunning! The information is superb, such valuable information on IDing irises, record keeping.
To be able to read your journey to becoming a national collection and discovering Bliss irises and a great plug for HIPS.
Who knows what contacts and further discoveries will come to you through this excellently prepared and published book!
Just having a glimpse at the whole I love it: the size of the book, the beautiful plates and photos, the balance with them with the text. Really well done. Congratulations.
Written to explain the background context and the content of the Bliss Iris National Collection, this book does what you’d expect; it celebrates Bliss Irises. Anne Milner achieves this celebration while going at a cracking pace and by including interesting stories about the Bliss family history, (Milner’s maiden name being Bliss). Her intimate and deep knowledge of the subject is brought to life with colour and warmth both of which prevent what could easily be a dry, scholarly work from ever becoming so. However, don’t be fooled, this is no vanity project; it’s a detailed and painstakingly researched body of work that is both entertaining and informative thus providing a good read for the mildly interested or the enthusiastic connoisseur. Indeed, Bliss Irises: Family and Flowers could provide a blue-print for anyone wondering what it takes to build and maintain a national plant collection. The plentiful illustrations thoroughly inform and illuminate the text and of particular interest are the captivating water colours painted by Fern Harden.
The first section of the book which illustrates the Bliss family history gives a fascinating and engrossing introduction to the following section, which describes how the author built the Bliss Iris National Collection. By the time I’d reached the third, more technical, section I found myself being genuinely interested in the detail and provenance of the individual plants.
Overall, a very warm-hearted, modest account of significant achievements by a single family that have lead to a book that’ll appeal just as much to the casual reader as to the professional plant breeder.
by Geoffrey Carr, garden designer, Gloucestershire