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Re: AIS: HYB: Geo. Waters' Bulletin Article

I have to agree with Ahners comments about Georges
article. I believe one of the problems in perception
of the culture of tall-bearded Irises is that most
often they are seen growing in beds by themselves and
not in perennial borders. This tends to give an
impression among general gardeners that they are
difficult to grow with other plants. The problem is
not the Iris but the microclimates and culture. TBs
are disgustingly easy. I suspect this is one of the
reasons they sometimes meet with disdain among some
plantsman. Because of the lack of challenge,.anyone
can grow them. The trick is to choose a good location.
Full sun is best, trying to grow them in a shady
garden may work but you set up just one more obstacle.
They prefer alkaline soil. They can grow in acid soil
but many studies in the past show they loose
considerable disease resistance in acid conditions.
Therefore as I pointed out in an article in the
bulletin recently a garden filled with azaleas,
rhododendrons and other acid loving plants will
support Siberian Irises but not be ideal for TBs.
Anyone who saw Schreiners display beds would say they
were great plants for the perennial border with
peonies, poppies, lupines, etc. etc. But ironically
the Siberian Irises which flourish and are considered
ideal perennial border plants by many general
gardeners today were not flourishing at Schreiners.
There are many parts of the country where TBs and
Siberians can be grown in the same garden but they
prefer different conditions. To expect that any plant
will grow anywhere without consideration of its
requirements is unrealistic. George is a very
knowledgeable plantsman yet I think he was expecting
too much. For many people even in his area TBs are
perhaps too easy. But we cant expect that success is
always inevitable.

--- ChatOWhitehall@aol.com wrote:

> 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 
> forth. 
> 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.
> Cordially,
> Anner Whitehead
> Richmond VA USA USDA Zone 7  
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