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Hot colour iris performance in UK

Barbara asks:
>Why don't pink or orange iris grow well in England?  Is it the soil?  It's
clay where I'm at so we import dirt and/or create our own.

Rick comments:
>As for pink/orange iris not doing well in England, I would have to
assume it would be the climate more so than the soil.  Perhaps Graham
could expand on this.

Well, I would say that there are several factors:
1. climate: we get horrible, grey and miserable, wet winters here - I'm told
that Oregon/Washington is similar (comments from people up there welcome).
Even people wither when we get long periods of miserable, cold, wet and grey
days. We grow our beardeds on raised beds to improve drainage. In fact, we
are in a drier area than some parts of the UK - Cumbria and Scotland get 2 to
3 metres of rain fall (6.5 to 10 feet) per annum and much colder winter
nights - minus 15 Celsius not uncommon (14F). I know that in those areas,
these hot coloured irises require quite a bit of care - plastic cloches or
even earthing up in winter.
2. genetics: I just feel that pink and orange irises (especially those with
the so-called T-factor - tangerine beards) are less vigorous than other
colours. I was discussiing this with my father this morning and he said that
he had noticed that those irises (regardless of flower colour) with purple
staining in the base of the fans tend to be more vigorous - PINK CONFETTI has
this characteristic and grows well here. Where did this staining come from?
I've seen it in I.variegata and lots of plicatas. Where did the T-factor come
from and also the pink and orange colouring? Are those species from milder or
drier climates? Anyone strong on iris history and genetics could comment on
3. location of hybridizers: it seems to me (and I am prepared to be
contradicted) that most hybridizers in the US of pink and orange irises work
in milder and drier states - Ben Hager for instance. They are unlikely to
pick up on breeding lines that do not perform well in climates like ours,
simply because they never get that type of weather at their nursery. Does
anyone know of a hybridizer working in a cooler or wetter area who is
developing really good pink or orange varieties? I'm sure everyone would like
to hear!!

What experience have irisarians had in other northern European gardens or in

Graham Spencer
Croftway Nursery
Temperature creeping up to 7 Celsius - 45 Farenheit. Must get better heating
in the office!

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