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Re: Survivors and hybridizers

  • Subject: Re: [iris-photos] Survivors and hybridizers
  • From: Robt R Pries rpries@sbcglobal.net
  • Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 08:13:36 -0800 (PST)


I have to start with a commendation to Bill for his fine post. I think he is right on mark.


I will also add that I have no idea to whom he was responding. I receive too many e-mails to read everyone. And since Tall-bearded Irises are a minor interest often TB gets deleted before I even look, if I am pressed for time. But many of you may be jumping to an unwarranted conclusion right now. I love tall-bearded irises and have probably grown more than most of you. My interests are just broader than that.


For years I have heard people grouse about this hybridizer or that. Let me point out that I don?t believe any hybridizer has ever selected for rot resistance. To do so you would have to deliberately infect your plants and see how they respond. Everyone that has grown TBs for many years has had a season or more in which the plants might be devastated by soft rot.  Even under that type of condition the survivors tell you very little about their resistance. You would have to rule out microclimates and many other factors. In my opinion Iris people have not assembled any information that can say anything at all about rot resistance. Good scientific investigations have not been done that give us this information.


It is only human to see what happens in our own gardens and draw conclusions. But we must remind ourselves that these are anecdotal and carry little weight. I rarely report failures. They tell me very little until I can see a success. Whether it be a specific cultivar or a new species I am trying, I do not consider I have given a plant a fair chance until I have killed it in five different places and five different microhabitats. Even then I would only concede that I have found it difficult and haven?t discovered the secret to its success.


Some new gardeners fail to realize that individual plants often die for no reason at all. In medicine your doctor might use the word idiopathic. Basically it sounds good and for the informed it means he doesn?t know. The lack of performance of a plant may often be idiopathic. Good gardeners simply dig up the plant, clean off any rot, and replant in a different spot. Often that solves the problem. If I were to say its not the hybridizer it?s the gardener, that would be unfair also. Ten plants in row might do great except for one in the middle. It isn?t the gardeners fault but they may be all the same cultivar and it isn?t the hybridizers either. Through the years I have heard many garden myths. For example that an old field of irises has depleted the soil of micronutrients. All you young iris growers will eventually encounter this problem if you grow TBs in the same place for many years. But unless you look at the problem objectively you will not discover the solution. That any hybridizer produces plants that are more or less resistant to rot is another of these garden myths.


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