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CULT: HYB: Good Irises

In a message dated 8/24/05 9:51:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Tmilchh@aol.com 

<<  We need to get irises that grow and flourish and don't die or rot. I had 
a hard year. >>

I don't think we should expect miracles from anyone, but I think we can 
certainly encourage greater sensitivity to these issues, and some changes where 
change might be most easily effected, since so many folks don't seem happy, and 
not all of them are complaining because they enjoy doing so. Here is one idea:

There is, I suggest, no shame whatsoever in an originator putting forth a 
lovely new iris and stating candidly that it is something of which s/he is very 
proud, but it is probably not suitable for gardens north of  Boston, or is 
likely to prove disappointing in maritime areas, or whatever. None of the things 
will grow at the South Pole, and why would a reasonable person expect them to 
grow equally well everywhere? Modern irises are genetically complex, and highly 
bred, and very individualistic, and everywhere is a mighty large place.

Nurserymen just keeping their ears open and being forthright about a new 
cultivar might be a real good thing because then people could make more informed 
purchasing decisions. Perennial plant catalogs have always included puffery, 
but there was a time when they featured more useful horticultural information, 
even gruff candor,  "... a good shorter iris; clear blue and fragrant; somewhat 
inclined to lean or rot in wet conditions; fully as handsome as Ishgabibble, 
not that that is any great shakes." 

You knew just what you were getting. If it rotted out in a real wet summer 
you shook your head and concluded your nurseryman had told you the truth, not 
that he had witheld useful information so you had an unexpected mess to deal 
with, a hole at the front of the blue border, and two bucks down the drain, as it 

I think if everyone --hybridizers, nurserymen, gardeners, and the people 
voting for prestigeous AIS awards--- was a little more discriminating, a little 
more pragmatic, a little more thoughtful, a little more oriented to quality over 
quantity, a little more inclined to communicate responsibly so useful 
information flowed freely and good decisions could be made at all levels, the whole 
picture might brighten. 

I'm not naive about some people being weak where money or glory is involved, 
or others being careless gardeners or having unrealistic expectations. I 
figure those factors will be with us always, but I don't think they have to be 

Sorry to hear about your garden this year; Annette; that is so demoralizing. 
Plant a mess of tulips this fall. They are cheap and come with canned blooms 
so that if the squirrels don't get desperate and eat them you are practically 
guaranteed some cheerful color in the spring, even if, in the south, tulips are 
good only for one spring. 


Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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