TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOW MOCHA (Kanarowski 2023), TB, Midseason, 35”

TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOW MOCHA (Kanarowski 2023), TB, Midseason, 35”




For the dedicated hybridizer, one of the biggest thrills and also one of the most productive uses of your time is visiting a fellow hybridizers' iris garden during bloom season.  While it is always interesting to check out the newly introduced flowers for the first time, far and away, my primary interest is in studying the most promising un-named seedlings.  With a new introduction, you are looking at the present.  But with a seedling, you are potentially looking into the future


Just for starters: What color patterns is he pursuing?  Which cultivars is he using?   Is he getting anything that is new or different?  And which seedlings are headed for introduction?  Each of these primary questions then lead to a dozen secondary questions.  And the answers to the secondary questions subsequently lead to even more questions.  I dig deep.  For me, this is how a brief visit can easily turn into a full day of discovery.  For this hybridizer, it’s one of the most exciting way to spend an entire spring day that I can think of.


Actually I don’t think that I have ever visited a fellow hybridizers garden where I didn’t gain something of significant value and not get a new idea to go home and experiment with. In actual practice, the vast majority of fresh inspirations that I pursue don’t actually pan out.  Failure is common.  Success is a rarity .  But the one or two ideas that do materialize, are well worth all the extra effort for the dedicated, persistent and passionate.  Hey, on average I only put out 3 new introductions per year.  So I chase a lot of rainbows to find the few pots of pure gold.


SEVERAL YEARS AGO …. the story begins


Several years ago, I hooked up with a small group of iris breeders on a visit to Larry Lauer’s iris garden when he still lived near Sacramento, California.  I’m always up for looking at new seedlings.   And since the actual flowering season is so brief, splendid days like this are rare.  Quite surprisingly, upon first entering his garden one particular seedling almost immediately grabbed my attention.  That’s rare.  Normally you look through many rows of flowers before you spot something of significant interest.  Since there were hundreds of seedling yet ahead to inspect, I only gave this first contestant one solid moment of contemplation.  


Our group then proceeded to methodically moved across Larry’s entire area of maiden bloom and second year seedlings; pausing for a moment at each to give them their due respect.  Few Irisarians have a realization of just how much time and work it takes to move a flower from a speck of pollen to displaying its first open bud.  Planning, pollinating, saving seed, potting seed, planting seedlings, fertilizing, weed pulling and cultivation are all required elements of the lengthy process.  Having "performed the drill" for many seasons, I have a deep appreciation of what a competent hybridizer must go through each year.  Similarly, I have a certain amount of respect for the actual flowering seedling before me.


That day, our little group went on to look at a great many new faces.  But as you most likely have guessed, that first seedling in the garden kept calling me back.   On each visit, I looked deeper and deeper for iris sins.  Was there something …. anything …. that could and should immediately disqualify it from further study and possible introduction?  I found none.  At day’s end, I intently mentioned to Larry that I thought that it was the best seedling in his field, and hoped that he would at least save it for further evaluation.  Although I did not think the seedling was a stand-along-superstar, in my opinion, it was displaying several breeding advancements to work from.  Quite often, there are multiple steps to final success.


DECIDING WHAT NOT TO OWN …. an unusual dilemma


Before leaving Larry’s garden, I noticed a named Lauer flower that was quite similar to my chosen seedling.  The colors were very similar:  a blend of buttercup, yellow, peach, amber and orange.  But I thought that the introduced flower was so far inferior to the chosen seedling that I penciled in an unusual note to myself …. to never own the previously introduced flower …. to stay away from it and therefore never be tempted to use it in breeding.  As a hybridizer, I almost always want to move away from the inferior and toward the superior.




A couple of years later, I was extremely happy to discover that Larry had introduced the chosen seedling.  He had named it, COME GO WITH ME, a 2006 introduction.  Not widely distributed, it took a while to acquire.  And my first task was to immediately incorporate it into my breeding program.  I was quite sure that I could coax something of new interest out of its genes.  So I worked with it for several years.


At first, nothing. Then more breeding tries.  Nothing of consequence.  As more years passed with more poor results, I actually almost gave up that particular breeding project and discarded the flower.  Even the most determined will only bang his head into a same brick wall so many times.  But each and every time that I considered relocating COME GO WITH ME to the compost pile, my memories always took me back to that special day in Larry’s garden.  So I stubbornly kept the flower and kept working with it. 


Truthfully, I almost forgot about it.  When you are working on well over 25 different breeding goals and with the passage of time, you can lose track of what you were doing and why you were even doing it.  Then one morning in 2017, a very promising seedling opened in my garden.  I recorded its number and quickly tracked it back through my breeding records.  I was more than pleasantly surprised at its parentage.  Seedling #0638 was BIG BADDA BOOM (Kanarowski ‘20) X COME GO WITH ME.  So if you followed the dots, you’ll come to realize that this new creation, TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOW MOCHA, had to wait until my own newer flower, BIG BADDA BOOM, had come into being to enable making the cross.  So at least this time, the moral of the story might be …. Don’t ever give up!




Obviously, a Blend is any iris that displays a combination of colors.  So TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOWMOCHA qualifies.  Top to bottom mix:  apricot, orange, buff, mocha, latte, coco, chocolate, and menthol-blue violet.  All done with a  red-tangerine beard that pulls all the colors together nicely.  But I would caution the reader that all blended flowers are not always as attractive as this one.   They can range from beautiful to ugly.   Everything depends on which colors are used.   And the manner in which they are blended and the places applied.  Are they harmonious or do they clash?  Is the overall presentation pretty and attractive?  You be the judge.  You are the judge.  Personally, I’m attracted to blended flowersfor their variety of color presentations.. So I’m quite fond of this flower and I think you will be too!




When I was first introduced to coffee many years ago, there were two standardized choices …. cream and sugar, or black?  Golly, how that has changed!  Here is only a partial list of today‘s variants:  regular or espresso, coffee beans from what country, from which farm, ground how, roasted how, is it latte or mocha, made with white, dark or milk chocolate, sugar, various syrups, with added whipped cream, cinnamon, and marshmallows.  Which flavor of creamer do you like …. you now have 20 or more to choose from?  And don‘t let me forget this important distinction, will you be drinking that hot or iced?  Today you probably could have a different coffee preparation for every day of the year.  Actually there seems to be more choices than wine labels.  Consequently your local coffee shop may be offering a new coffee combination every day under the menu heading …. “Today’s Special”


So my inspiration for the name TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOW MOCHA are the distinct cocoa, chocolate and latte areas lavished on the flower shoulder and rim areas of the fall. These are the same colors that you might see in a coffee cup today.  This particular blend of un-common colors deliver a fresh, new look for the iris world without the bother of going to the drive-thru!



TB, 35”, Midseason

STANDARDS:  apricot, tinged peach

STYLE ARMS:  deep orange

FALLS:   complex; broad coco-chocolate edge, shoulder and veining which transition to menthol-blue-violet center

BEARD:  red-tangerine


EXTRA’S …. but of course!     


Color Class: distinctive and harmonious “blend” Curb Appeal:  high, very favorable

Fall Form: modern, touching shoulders and desirable orbicular form  Stem strength & proportions:  good

Flower Size: largish, 3.5”H x 7” W  Beard Size:  largish Rhizome Size  larger

Beard Color: tangerine-red, attention getting focal point, robust and complementary

Increase:  3.5 increase per single fall-planted rhizome  Stems:  can produce 2stalks per rhizome

Branching: good; Buds:  7 or more often with a triple socketed terminal bud Proportions: good

Bloom height in foliage:  good  Fading or Aging Issues:  none  Substance:  satisfactory

Correct:  plant proportions and robust stem strength for its size  Ruffles:  substantial, nice

Breeding History: used as a pod parent several times Unique: unlike anything that I am aware of





“Very interesting and complete blend of several harmonious colors.  A carnival of color.”




The “recipe” for producing a high quality iris introduction is as varied as what you can do with a basic cup of coffee.  Sometimes, two off-the-shelf parents can produce a quick win.  Other times, a pedigree may be so convoluted as to requires multiple lines of  text to properly document.  TODAY’S SPECIAL RAINBOW MOCHA called for yet another variant …. a somewhat older flower had to wait for its perfect, younger mate to reveal itself in a freshly created seedling …. not unlike the marriage of a couple with two different chronological ages.  Thus the pathway for yet another Iris From The Future.


PICTURE CRITIQUE …. I believe that my pictures are fairly close to reality.  The basis for my hesitancy is that I recently have had consecutive years of difficult weather conditions.  See the various views of different buds.





Two rhizomes $70