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HIST: CULT: Notoriously Tender

In a message dated 8/26/05 1:01:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
jeffwiris@yahoo.com writes:

<< 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 am a big believer in gaining greater insight and apppreciation of irises by 
trying to understand the plants in their wider social and historical contexts.

One of the areas I am just beginning to look into toward better understanding 
some of the references to cultivar performance in the literature, including 
some "notorious" references to hardiness, or to assess the survival probability 
of some famous cultivars which seem to have dropped off the face of the earth 
despite the fact that they were distinctive and comparatively popular in the 
1920s, is climate history. 

In Virginia, for instance, many records were set in 1930, which is when the 
Iris was a dominant flower in the fashionable gardens, a position it had lost 
before the Second World War. In the Northeast, if I read some references in the 
periodical literature correctly, there were apparently several devastating 
years in the early 1930s. Cold, heat, and drought factor into all this.

I am impeded somewhat in my investigations by my own lack of training in this 
area, but then some records do survive and I don't need a climate 
professional to tell me that if in a given locality cultural conditions diverged 
radically from the norm for several years 1930-35, years which also involved the 
Depression, a lot of gardens, and the irises in them, might have received a fatal 


Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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