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AIS: HYB: Geo. Waters' Bulletin Article

In a message dated 8/26/2006 7:57:29 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
lmann@lock-net.com writes:

<<<<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  
forgotten that. 
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.
Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA USDA Zone 7  

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