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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

This is a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly....

Disclaimer--this only applies to performance of cultivars in Rick and
Roger's garden in California and Mike and Anne's garden in Virgina.........

>Rick Tasco writes...
>I consider "Tempting Fate" by Duane Meek introduced in 1993 as the
>premier dark amoena today.  My opinion!  Fabulous.  The R&I describes it
>as S. blue-white, flushed deeper at midrib; F, very dark black-purple
>with small ray pattern at tip of beards; lavender beards tipped bronze.
>Parentage: (Premonition X Pacific Shores) X Graduation.

I saw 'Tempting Fate' as Meek 327-1-5 and promptly invested in it as well
as George Shoop's 'In Reverse.' I lost both, winter 93/94. Both were
replaced and I again lost both, winter 94/95. I purchased 'Tempting Fate'
yet again at a Club sale this summer and have not had the courage to look
at it this disastrous summer/fall/winter (60 inches of rain and counting!).

But now, to the fascinating tale of the good and the ugly...

'Wabash' (Williamson 36) is the most popular historic iris grown in the
U.S.A. It was also at the top of the polls in the 40s and 50s. It is a
superlative garden iris and is often described as 'beautiful.' About half
the time, however, the description is not quite so glowing, dwelling
instead on the virtues of 'Wabash' as a garden subject.

Enter the good. In the late 40s, Geddes Douglas supervised a test project
to determine; "Whence came the Amoenas?" The project involved thousands of
test crosses, by irisarians across the country, indeed, the world. One of
these myriad crosses proved so beautiful Geddes was unable to discard it
and it was duly registered as 'Bright Hour' (Douglas 49). I believe it was
introduced to commerce, catalogs of the early 50s show it thusly, although
the Check List does not. It was widely circulated among project members and
amoena fanciers.

Forward to the present. In my garden, in Cameron Hall's garden and in
nearly anyone's garden where 'Wabash' and 'Bright Hour' are grown, the
surviving iris is almost always 'Bright Hour.' Both grow almost as weeds,
tenacious of life in the extreme, although stable in undivided clumps.
However, 'Bright Hour' is beautiful. Sooner or later, the unsuspecting
gardener has all clumps of 'Beautiful Wabash' however the, shall I say
'plain Jane' but real 'Wabash,' has found its way to the compost pile.

The one point of absolute discrimination between these iris is the base
color. 'Wabash' is tinged with faint purple at the base of the fans,
'Bright Hour' has no purple whatsoever.

We have tossed 'Bright Hour' so has Cameron Hall, except for a 'keep alive'
clump planted at a cousin's house. We were not able to obtain the real
'Wabash' for nearly five years. We would buy or beg a start of 'Wabash'
yearly, only to find, when it bloomed, that it was really 'Bright Hour.'

We reacquired the real 'Wabash' (complete with purple base) from a grower
near my mother-in-law's house. It had been 'passed over the fence' in the
early 50s and has grown in the neighbor's planting for nearly 45 years.
When we asked the owner for a start, we inquired as to the care it has
received. The answer was;"Oh, I just keep mowing close to it when it tries
to take over the lawn. No other care needed."

To view pictures of 'Tempting Fate' 'Bright Hour' and 'Wabash' point your
browser at http://www.tricities.net/~mikelowe/ and when the HIPS page loads
scroll down just past the news item on Eleanor Roosevelt and click on

Best regards,

Mike,  mikelowe@tricities.net   --   http://www.tricities.net/~mikelowe/

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