AIS: HYB: Geo. Waters' Bulletin Article
In a message dated 8/26/2006 7:57:29 AM Eastern Standard Time,
<<<<Several articles caught my interest this time, but was most amazed by
the George Waters "Food For Thought" article.
Yes. I expect some won't find the article great fun.
I do think it is essential that persons feel free to open discussions on
these sorts of problems, especially those they consider "inevitable," but
susceptible to amelioration. In some quarters there is, I think, a tendency to
consider anyone who raises an awkward issue not quite an Iris team player. Then
mutterings about negativity or whatnot start, typically, I have observed,
coming from some source whose own foibles would exasperate a wooden Indian.
Nobody signed a loyalty oath or a Pollyanna pledge when they joined AIS, and we
can't learn anything from each other if we won't speak out.
I think it well the Editor listened to George Waters, and published this
distinguished senior irisarian's concerns. I am not sure they would have seemed
as authoritative, and of such poignancy, coming from another source. I am
distraught that Mr. Waters is having such disappointments, although I am not
confident his analysis of the situation has yielded unassailable conclusions.
Our Editor must be saluted for recognizing the significance of this article.
Bruce Filardi has brought a richer variety to the Bulletin, and I am
enjoying it. From time to time we have heard a lot about making room in the Bulletin
for more interesting articles, but, as Clarence Mahan mentioned in this
forum back in 1996, the real problem has not been finding room in the Bulletin,
it has been finding those good articles in the first place. I have never
What captured my attention in Mr. Waters' piece was his observation: "I have
not studied plant breeding, but what I have read on the subject suggests
that selection over many generations for decorative features inevitably lessens
plants' immunity to diseases and pests." He opines that the conditions in the
hybridizers' gardens may "mask" problems which manifest later in the care of
"ordinary gardeners." There is some talk of test gardens of the past, and so
I wonder. I wonder a lot about that strong word, "inevitably." I wonder if
Mr. Waters' observation is actually sound. I am ignorant, but I do believe the
situation must be very complicated, indeed. Aside from anything else, the
pests and diseases are also changing, adapting over many generations, or so I'd
expect. No entity in nature, no phenomenon, no condition, exists in
isolation. I also wonder who those ordinary gardeners are, and what their
expectations and skills are presumed to be.
I'll tell you, there is some question in my mind as to whether we should
really expect the preponderance of hybrid irises to grow well everywhere, even
with the very best of culture. Were it not for a handful of bearded historics,
not all of which are diploids, which, to their everlasting glory, do very
nearly that, albeit not, in my experience, without leaf spot, I don't know that
we'd even think such a thing possible. We certainly would not assert such
is the case with any other group of intensively hybridized ornamental
perennial garden plants. Nor, I observe, is it invariably true of many of the
non-hybridized ornamental plants, forms of species of many genera, available for
our horticultural consideration.
Which is not to say I don't think Waters' has raised a useful point: When it
comes to pest and disease resistance, more is better, all around, on all
scores, and always will be so.
Richmond VA USA USDA Zone 7
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