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Re: Re: CAT: Survey of Iris Suppliers - Results

  • Subject: Re: [iris-talk] Re: CAT: Survey of Iris Suppliers - Results
  • From: Bill Shear <wshear@hsc.edu>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 09:17:10 -0400

> This brings up an interesting question. I remember a prevoius discussion
> on the list about whether we should snap off spent bloom stalks or slice
> them off. A comment made by Bill Shear was that snapping the bloom stalk
> broke it off along cell boundaries, while cutting it sliced through
> cells thus leaving the plant more susceptible to disease.
> I wonder if the same might not apply to separating rhizomes?

I always break them off.  But once a rhizome has been treated with
disinfectant, fungicide, etc., and dried off for shipment, the chance of
disease infecting through the callus is probably very small.  So it may
matter only to the grower, who might lose a few customers who like to see
clean cuts, or vice versa.

Personally, I don't really care what the plants are packed in (though
something recyclable, like newspaper or wood excelsior is better for our
environment than styrofoam peanuts), what sort of box they are in, or if
they are cut or broken off.  Good, firm, healthy plants with strong roots
and foliage--give me that, and I'm happy.

I wonder how the custom of bonuses or gifts got started among iris growers.
I can testify that it goes back at least 45 years--my first order from
Schreiners' for a starter collection included CHIVALRY and CHERIE as extras,
which pleased me no end.  Is it because iris multiply so rapidly?  After
all, the prices of irises go down much, much faster than those of the more
slowly propagating daylilies (and they start lower, too).  Anyway, gifts
have become more and more important to customers and something of a potlatch
phenomenon is taking over.  Two growers I ordered from for the first time
this year literally doubled my order by including new or recent
introductions as extras.

Extras present a problem, too.  If you have limited space as I do, what do
you do when you have planned for 20 rhizomes of new varieties and end up
with 42?  As our college fund-raiser says, "It's a high-class problem." This
year, one of the raised beds in the vegetable garden got converted from
cucumbers to irises, somewhat to the irritation of other members of the
family, who shall remain nameless.

Well, problem or not, we all like gifts.  So keep 'em coming, growers!
Maybe by 2050 it will no longer be necessary to order iris at all; free
rhizomes will just arrive unbidden, like those bags of zucchini
non-gardeners find on their front porches these August mornings.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (434)223-6374
Moderating e-lists:
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"Time will soon destroy the works of famous painters and sculptors, but the
Indian arrowhead will balk his efforts and Eternity will have to come to his
aid.  They are not fossil bones, but, as it were, fossil thoughts, forever
reminding me of the mind that shaped them"  --Henry David Thoreau, Journals,
March 11, 1859.

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