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CULT:HYB: Trial Gardens [was: Re: HYB: AIS: Trial Garden Idea Redux]

In the ongoing series of threads about gardenability and Trial Gardens, a
thought repeatedly has come to mind.  I found it voiced by Anner Whitehead
and Griff Crump in their recent exchange:  "'is the aftermarket doing all
the meaningful testing?' --- the answer to which is also, probably, yes."

There are many, many "Trial Gardens" in existence around the country (or
world for that matter)--every commercial garden--doing that

The more frank catalogs, and I am mindful of Phil Williams' Rockytop Gardens
catalog, are quite useful in looking at the potential in making purchases
more than one or two years away from introduction.

Private, very candid remarks by a judge (official or otherwise) in another
area of the country than one's own, are also wonderful resources of
evaluation, especially if they are located near one of the clusters of major
breeders or introducers.

Irises that lack *either* quality or gardenability disappear from most
catalogs very quickly, or never get there at all.  Every local retail grower
has a "trial garden" on display, if one wanted to avail onesself of the
opportunity to see performance, branching, bud count or attractiveness of
foliage first hand.

Raw, year of introduction, purchases sight unseen is undoubtedly somewhat of
a "crap shoot," but pedigrees often tell much--with exceptions.  Even rave
reviews in the *Bulletin* of an iris seen only once in one year at a
convention can be useful, but have to be taken with a fair measure of salt.
I've bought some I later felt were a waste of my money that had been
featured in glowing *Bulletin* reviews.  I was very surprised.  Usually the
reaction to a variety at a convention is a useful guide, just not always.

Some otherwise unknowns have been very happy surprises.  Often these come
from small volume, isolated breeders away from the major commercial centers.
I am mindful of the generally very high quality output of Tom Parkhill in
the Knoxville area.

Neil Mogensen  z 7  Reg 4  western NC mountains

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