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Re: AIS:HYB:Test Gardens

Ellen Gallagher <ellengalla@yahoo.com> wrote:
<<  The attendees at
the last Denver convention saw the Loomis 'test' garden in CO.
By and large, almost nothing was doing well (to my eye) even
those irises from in-region hybridizers. >>

I received the same impression as Ellen did during the tour of the Loomis Garden during the Denver AIS Convention in '98. As it was the only occasion on which I have ever visited that garden, I do not know whether whatever conditions or problems were involved have been overcome, but the experience did leave me with some reservations about the credibility of the Loomis Test Gardens evaluations.

<< *This can't be overstated for those in Zone 3 to those in more
warmer climes (which is everyone else on this list): cold is not
an enemy of irises with reliable snow cover. Irises grow and
bloom well in my mountainous, acid soil. Just takes longer to
see good bloom because of the shorter growing season. >>

I would also like to second Ellen's observations on this point. Historic Iris cultivars that acquired notorious reputations for "tenderness" in non-benign climates years before most of us were born, such as CONQUISTADOR, PURISSIMA, and SAN FRANCISCO, perform quite satisfactorily here in northern Utah (Zone 4b). I agree with Ellen that the key factor is reliable snow cover and the near absence of mid-winter thaws of sufficient duration to stimulate these "tender" irises into active growth, which is undoubtedly their inherent tendency.

Cultivars originated by contemporary hybridizers working in mild winter climates, such as Joe Ghio, Bill Maryott, Fred Kerr, Rick Tasco/Roger Duncan, George Sutton and Barry Blyth tend to grow quite satisfactorily here, and some are truly outstanding in their performance.

Jeff Walters in northern Utah (USDA Zone 4)


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