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Re: HYB: AIS: Trial Garden Idea Redux


Anner observes:

 >I have been told that to fret oneself that some hybridizers are not
achieving
> "gardenability" is to miss the point entirely, for 'gardenablity,"
especially
> "gardenability" over a broad geographical area, is not among the goals
shared
> by the preponderance of them, who are breeding for new breaks of color and
> form.

This is probably true.  And one wonders whether it is necessarily a bad
thing.  For, as Anner also observes:

>is the aftermarket doing all the
> meaningful testing?

--- the answer to which is also, probably, yes.

Is it unfair, then, that there should be an element of  "caveat emptor" (let
the buyer beware) in the acquisition of new varieties?

First, let me say that I think testing one's seedlings in various parts of
the country is a good thing.  As a hybridizer, I have decided against
introducing some registered seedlings because they performed poorly in more
places than they performed well.  Arriving at this decision, however, takes
several years of sending them around and getting reports back.  Also, one or
two of those that I have kept off the market are much beloved by persons to
whom I have sent them privately upon request, for whom they are performing
well.  From others, however,  I have heard, "Sdlg X doesn't seem to like it
here."  Are my motives in not introducing such chancy performers utterly
pure?   I always bear in mind the advice of another hybridizer friend that
one should only introduce his best  --  the unspoken corollary being that
one doesn't want to get a reputation for marketing dogs.

But how widely should one distribute his seedlings for trial, and how long
should the evaluation period last?  Let's look at the cases of two
well-known irises  --  BEST BET, that beautiful blue near-amoena introduced
by Schreiner's in 1988, and Joe Ghio's spectacular LADY FRIEND, introduced
in 1981.  I do not know whether either was tested outside its home garden
or, if so, where and for how long.  I do know that BEST BET, although grown
successfully for years by some buyers, including some on this list, also
soon gained a widespread reputation as being an iris that you couldn't keep
alive for more than 2 or 3 years.   I well remember a discussion among three
commercial hybridizers  -- one of them a ranking official of AIS at the
ime  -- in which they agreed that they would never use BEST BET in
hybridizing because of their experience with it in the garden.  Question:
If Schreiner's had sent BEST BET around to the sort of test gardens that are
being discussed in this thread, and had gotten such negative feedback as
described above, would they have introduced it?  Who knows?  But, at the
present time, BEST BET figures in the parentage of 31 registered irises,
including BOYSENBERRY BUTTERCUP, JURASSIC PARK and MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
At the time I was listening to the aforementioned discussion, I had already
made crosses and had seedlings from BEST BET, so it was too late for me to
"profit" by their advice.  My BEST BET derivative RANKS OF BLUE was
introduced last year; HAUNTING, a rebloomer here and in Missouri, North
Carolina and elsewhere, will be introduced next year, and AGAINST THE TIDE
(you can guess the reason for the name), a border bearded, hasn't been sent
around yet.  Also, I have re-acquired BEST BET, which tanked in my garden
after 2 years, just because it is a beautiful flower and maybe I'll get a
couple more years of hybridizing out of it.

What of LADY FRIEND?  That lovely, vigorous iris, much sought as a parent,
did well in my garden for several years.  Then, a couple of years ago, we
had an extremely wet summer.  I was astonished when LADY FRIEND virtually
disappeared.  Scouring other growers' and hybridizers' gardens within a
3 -hour drive of here, north, south and west, I found that LADY FRIEND had
suffered the same fate everywhere.  No one had enough left to spare.
Fortunately, Donald Eaves generously sent me a couple from his dry realm in
Texas, so I have it again.  Now, let's suppose that when LADY FRIEND was
first under consideration, it had been sent to the Mid-Atlantic states and
encountered the weather conditions of two summers ago with the results
described above.  Having failed the durability test in a whole region, would
it have been introduced?

I cite these scenarios not because they are exceptional, but because they
reflect the realities of widespread testing.  Will I continue to send
seedlings around for testing?  Yep.  Will I think badly of those who don't?
Nope.

Again, Anner asked:

>Is it all, inevitably and forever, to be a crap shoot on a sliding scale,
> with the greatest excitement and cost, but also the most unproven
cultivars and
> hence the greatest risk, financial and otherwise, found at the cutting
edge,
> and less risk, but also less excitement, not to say boredom, in growing
the more
> familiar, or market-proven cultivars?

I am reminded of the immortal words of Julus Caesar when considering whether
to cross the Rubicon:  "Roll im!"

--  Griff

zone 7 in Virginia

(P.S.  I hope no one asks, "What did he cross Rubicon with?")






----- Original Message -----
From: <ChatOWhitehall@aol.com>
To: <iris@hort.net>
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:47 AM
Subject: [iris] HYB: AIS: Trial Garden Idea Redux


> In a message dated 8/29/05 8:54:56 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> ChatOWhitehall@aol.com writes:
>
> <<  I may have something more to offer on my own  idea about people
> registering to trial in their own gardens--this in response to a couple of
notes I've
> had from folks who know more about the world of hybridizing and how it
really
> works than I. >>
>
> I have been told that to fret oneself that some hybridizers are not
achieving
> "gardenability" is to miss the point entirely, for 'gardenablity,"
especially
> "gardenability" over a broad geographical area, is not among the goals
shared
> by the preponderance of them, who are breeding for new breaks of color and
> form.
>
> I am told that competition is very fierce, that the big money and big
glory
> are at the cutting edge, and there is a limited window in which to get a
new
> introduction onto the market; accordingly, culling and trialing must
happen
> largely in the hybridizer's own garden. If other trialing is wanted, it is
likely
> to be done by a trusted colleague, a fellow hybridizer, who can offer
> sophisticated insights. I understand that it may even be possible that in
some
> quarters the experience of gardeners around the country may not considered
relevant
> to the goals being persued, or even very interesting.
>
> Of course, this is what one thought was probably the way things work, at
> least in some hybridizer's gardens at the cutting edge. Certainly all
indicators
> pointed to it  being the case. And why not? If the hybridizers are doing
all
> the work, they certainly also get to follow their own vision, and pick
their own
> goals, and customers who share these goals will support them. And it is
not
> like the preponderance of new iris introductions are duds, although some
appear
> to be unassailably mediocre.
>
> Is "gardenability" even a workable goal when irises are complicated and
> gardeners vary so much in their expectations and their skills and none of
us are
> gardening in Eden? Can we even agree on a definition?
>
> Is it all, inevitably and forever, to be a crap shoot on a sliding scale,
> with the greatest excitement and cost, but also the most unproven
cultivars and
> hence the greatest risk, financial and otherwise, found at the cutting
edge,
> and less risk, but also less excitement, not to say boredom, in growing
the more
> familiar, or market-proven cultivars? And is the aftermarket doing all the
> meaningful testing?
>
> Just ruminating...
>
> Anner Whitehead
> Richmond VA USA
>
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