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CULT: Beauty is as beauty does

Hi All,

I am finally finding time to get out into the beds and do my spring 
cleaning.  Fan growth is up an inch or less on the survivors with some 
still barely showing green at the soil surface.  We had another very 
harsh winter here in northern MN that has taken what appears to be 
another fairly substantial toll in the iris beds, though currently not as 
bad as last year.  Temps were extremely cold with virtually no snow cover 
all winter.  Spring, however, has been a bit more cooperative so far.  
We've had a gradual warming that is typical for this area, and if we 
don't suddenly sink below freezing for a week, the surviving irises 
should be OK.

As usual, the MDBs and SDBs have come through winter just fine - even the 
new ones I added last year (for the most part - there are a few losses 
among them).  I haven't gotten far enough into the beds to fully evaluate 
the condition of all the new IBs and BBs I added last year, but it 
appears they haven't fared quite as well.  I did jump to the TB end of 
the beds and found many of last year's new acquisitions in varying states 
of mush - many deader than doornails.  Among the fatalities are a 
surprising number of historics as well as moderns.  There are, however, 
some first year historics and first year moderns that toughed it out and 
are still viable (for the moment, anyway). Unfortunately, a few of the 
established clumps of modern TBs that managed to survive last year's 
devastation decided they've now had enough and appear to have rotted 
beyond salvation.  They have been known to surprise me with miraculous 
resurrections, though, so I haven't yet written them off completely.

And then there are the cvs I can count on no matter what.  In cleaning my 
beds, it seems that just about all my taller medians and TBs rot as the 
ground thaws this time of year.  The survivors - the *reliable* survivors 
- are those that regularly outgrow rot.  They are so vigorous and 
unstoppable that they laugh in the face of erwinia, chiding. "Just TRY 
and keep up with me!"  They are not immune to rot.  They don't need to 
be.  They just keep growing right through it.

And so, I sincerely thank Monty Byers for ZURICH and Lloyd Zurbrigg for 
HARVEST OF MEMORIES.  There are others in my beds that have performed 
admirably under extremely harsh conditions, but these two are my 
absolutely failsafe, 100% reliable, always outgrow the rot, always bloom 
on tall stalks cvs that make all the other losses worthwhile.  They give 
me hope that there are others out there like them, and if I just keep 
replacing the less resilient rotters with different cvs, eventually I 
will find worthy companions with which to fill my beds.  Surely there are 
more irises out there that possess such outstanding survival strategies 
for my growing conditions.  I WILL find them (and will no doubt kill off 
myriads of weaker contenders along the way)!

In a few more weeks when everything has had a chance to really get 
growing, I will post my list of "Beauty is as Beauty does" winners, if 
anyone is interested.


USDA zone 3b, AHS zone 4 - northern MN
acidic clay soil

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