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HIST: For Karen: Ethics, Choices,and Suggestions

From: HIPSource@aol.com

In a message dated 4/26/99 10:46:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
7kjellum@3rivers.net writes:

<< That is what I wanted to know, Anner Whitehead.  The "there" referred to 

Yes, I thought so. I think the question here boils down to confirming the 
actual status of the cemeteries. If there were any larger preservation agency 
interested in them or overseeing them, or if they were inherently 
historically significant in an area beyond their immediate locale, or if the 
ownership of the land was an issue, or if any of the family survived in the 
neighborhood, or non-local people were visiting often, then the situation 
might well be different. I do urge you to make sure the legal status of the 
graveyard is quite clear before you do anything. As I recall you were working 
with a genealogy group so you would be sensitive to all these issues. 

If they are in fact of no significance to anyone but yourself, then I think 
that even though the purists would not agree that you might plant a few more 
carefully chosen historic irises. They might or might not survive, and indeed 
there might have been ones there earlier which did not survive, or which were 
carried off by folks scavenging for plants. 

Clearly fastidious attention to authenticity must be paid in contexts where 
the garden or graveyard has an explicit or implicit educational mission. If 
people are visiting a site to learn then we need to be very concerned about 
messing with the actual record. But if you just want to plant a few more 
irises of the period on some graves of folks long since forgotten, I really 
can't see any substantial harm would be done.  

I'd say for the graveyard you should see about getting some I. germanica, I 
germanica v. florentina (orris), and I. pallida. If you want some few more 
bits of color, I think you could probably use a few FLAVESCENS and 
HONORABILE.  All of these are found hither and yon on abandoned homesites 
around the central and northern parts of the country and as far as I know 
they are all hardy enough for you. 

<< For my yard I just want some companion iris that would be of the same
 historical time--would actually prefer something that doesn't bloom at the
 same.....I think most of the planting would have been done from 1910--1924.  
What are some historic iris from that time or earlier since I don't think the 
latest iris would have arrived here in Montana.  These people were struggling 
to make a living and many didn't make it, but for my yard I'm not trying to 
recreate the cemetery history. >> 
You make a good point and one that people tend to forget when thinking about 
irises for period gardens, or age-specific groups of older irises. Because 
most garden irises are vegetatively propagated--must grow their own 
increase--it takes a while for them to get spread around and to make their 
way through channels of commerce or barter to most folks' gardens. Takes even 
longer for them to make their way down to hardscrabble gardens. So, bluntly 
speaking, most 1920 irises are not suitable for authentic plantings in most 
1920 gardens, unless the 1920 garden belonged to a special iris fancier. If 
you would like me to, I can send you privately a list of irises which I think 
you might like in your garden. These would include some of the notable irises 
of the nineteenth century, including those I have mentioned above. If you 
want me to do so, send me some more specifics about your garden or house and 
I'll pull a list together for you.

Anner Whitehead
Commercial Source Chairman
Historic Iris Preservation Society

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