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HISTORIC VS. MODERN TB's - lengthy

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: HISTORIC VS. MODERN TB's - lengthy
  • From: "Joe Spears" <argliris@gte.net>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 19:47:22 -0700 (MST)

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HISTORIC VS. MODERN TB's =96 comments and feedback invited.

A lot has been made lately of whether or not in the quest for more lace, =
more ruffles, new color breaks, horns, flounces and other revolutionary =
developments, that hybridizers are sacrificing vigor, disease resistance =
and durability. Also are they taking the time to test their new =
creations for performance in a wide range of climates; i.e. will they =
perform throughout the country and, today, throughout the world? =
Complaints are common from home gardeners and irisarians alike that the =
newer varieties are not as dependable as the irises of the past. They =
are more susceptible to rot, leaf spot, borers or they don=92t hold up =
to the heat or cold depending on region. Are these complaints new or =
have there always been iris introductions that had these same problems? =
I would guess that the historic irises available today represent about =
twenty percent of those introduced more than thirty years ago. What =
happened to the other eighty percent? Hmm! Were they just "thrown over =
the back fence" as their space was needed for the latest and greatest?


At Argyle Acres, we grow both historic and modern irises. Any iris new =
to our garden (historic OR modern) must not only survive but thrive for =
at least one complete cycle of seasons before it is even considered for =
inclusion in our catalog. We made an exception to this rule recently =
regarding one variety in particular. It thrived from the moment we =
placed it in the ground in September. The increase was astonishing. This =
performance continued through the winter and on into early spring. The =
plants were lush and beautiful. We began to understand why it was so =
popular beyond the beauty of the blooms and felt it truly deserved all =
the attention it was getting both domestically and internationally. We =
decided to offer it in our catalog at a premium price. It was blooming =
beautifully during our garden tours in April and everyone ordered it =
regardless of the price. We were pleased with our decision to make this =
one exception. We checked our inventory and had plenty to cover the =
orders to be shipped in late summer. Then one day in late June we were =
inspecting the field and noticed that our wonder plant (don't even =
ask=85.) was not looking so good. That was just the beginning. Every bit =
of this plant just dried up and died. As it turned out, we ended up =
refunding customers' money for about ninety percent of those ordered. It =
didn=92t like our hot Texas summer. All that survived were the shaded =
ones in the show gardens. Lesson learned.


And yes, we have had fifty year old plants that didn=92t appreciate the =
sweltering heat either. But I must say the old ones we grow require less =
attention. We have the historic plants segregated from the "new" (less =
than 30 years old) plants in similar "patches". Although there is always =
some attrition, we never have the problems with the "historic patch" =
that we have with the "modern patch". The old timers, on the whole, seem =
to be more tolerant of the heat, the cold, standing water, grasshoppers, =
weeds and so forth than many (not all) of the modern guys.=20


"Since they have survived over 30 years, are historic irises tougher =
than today's introductions?"

"Should we be using older irises in hybridizing to regain vigor, =
increase, disease resistance, durability?"=20

"It seems like many of the newer varieties don't last the first winter =
in my garden; I think I'll stick with the older ones."


Just think how many TBs alone have been introduced in the last 50 years. =
How many have stood the test of time? Looking back through my collection =
of old catalogs, I chose a year at random. In 1951, for instance, the =
following irises were introduced by these well-known iris growers:


Schreiner's: RASPBERRY RIBBON, COPPER MEDALLION, BLACK DIAMOND, WHITE =
TOWER, CHERRY FLIP, PINK FLUME, PHALANX, PEACH MERINGUE and FLARE


Cooley's: LOVELIGHT, ROSABELLA, SOLID GOLD and SPANISH FANDANGO


Agnes Whiting (BLUE RHYTHM is hers): COCK PHEASANT, COGNAC, CREVETTE, =
FROST GIANT, OPERA PINK, PIRATE KING and THISTLE BLOOM


How many of these are still in commerce in 1997? We offer PHALANX. Some =
are listed as available in the HIPS database. I wonder how gardeners in =
the fifties felt about these "newer" varieties. Did they perform overall =
any better than the "newer" varieties of today?


"Since they have survived over 30 years, are historic irises tougher =
than today's introductions?" The ones that have survived 30 plus years =
are tougher than all those that didn't survive, just like the tougher =
ones of today will still be around 30 plus years from now. One only has =
to grow SWERTII (1612) or QUAKER LADY (1909) for one year to understand =
how and why they are still around.=20


"Should we be using older irises in hybridizing to regain vigor, =
increase, disease resistance, durability?" Those older irises that have =
stood the test of time have proven that they have desirable traits of =
vigor, increase, disease resistance and, above all, durability. =
Therefore, in my opinion, something certainly could be gained, at least =
along those lines, by including select ones in your breeding program of =
today. Arguably, the iris seems to, more often than not, retain these =
desirable traits while maintaining the desirable modern characteristics =
we are trying to develop. For instance, crossing back to SNOW FLURRY (a =
pretty decent looking historic white which happens to be an ancestor of =
most modern bearded irises) should impart some of the performance traits =
without substantially affecting "modern" characteristics. VIOLET HARMONY =
and ROCOCO are other potential "invigorators".=20


"It seems like many of the newer varieties don't last the first winter =
in my garden. I think I'll stick with the older ones." Were the irises =
of the past ALL tougher than ALL of those bred today? Probably not or =
they would ALL still be available. Clearly, in a comparison of 20 =
randomly chosen historic varieties with 20 randomly chosen varieties =
introduced in the last five years, the historics would, as a lot, =
perform better in the areas of vigor, disease resistance, heat or cold =
tolerance and durability. After all, that is how they got to be =
historic. They stood the test of time.


However, if we are selective in choosing newer varieties -- considering =
hybridizer success, parentage, performance in other nearby gardens, =
recommendation by other irisarians or judges, local or regional =
symposia, adaptability and so forth =96 we should be more successful =
with all varieties. As 1997 draws to a close, which "modern" varieties =
do you think will be historic in 2027? JESSE'S SONG, THORNBIRD, DUSKY =
CHALLENGER, LADY FRIEND=85.

Joe and Donna
Argyle Acres

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</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV>
<P align=3Djustify>HISTORIC VS. MODERN TB's &ndash; comments and =
feedback=20
invited.</P>
<P align=3Djustify>A lot has been made lately of whether or not in the =
quest for=20
more lace, more ruffles, new color breaks, horns, flounces and other=20
revolutionary developments, that hybridizers are sacrificing vigor, =
disease=20
resistance and durability. Also are they taking the time to test their =
new=20
creations for performance in a wide range of climates; i.e. will they =
perform=20
throughout the country and, today, throughout the world? Complaints are =
common=20
from home gardeners and irisarians alike that the newer varieties are =
not as=20
dependable as the irises of the past. They are more susceptible to rot, =
leaf=20
spot, borers or they don&rsquo;t hold up to the heat or cold depending =
on=20
region. Are these complaints new or have there always been iris =
introductions=20
that had these same problems? I would guess that the historic irises =
available=20
today represent about twenty percent of those introduced more than =
thirty years=20
ago. What happened to the other eighty percent? Hmm! Were they just =
&quot;thrown=20
over the back fence&quot; as their space was needed for the latest and=20
greatest?</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>At Argyle Acres, we grow both historic and modern =
irises. Any=20
iris new to our garden (historic OR modern) must not only survive but =
thrive for=20
at least one complete cycle of seasons before it is even considered for=20
inclusion in our catalog. We made an exception to this rule recently =
regarding=20
one variety in particular. It thrived from the moment we placed it in =
the ground=20
in September. The increase was astonishing. This performance continued =
through=20
the winter and on into early spring. The plants were lush and beautiful. =
We=20
began to understand why it was so popular beyond the beauty of the =
blooms and=20
felt it truly deserved all the attention it was getting both =
domestically and=20
internationally. We decided to offer it in our catalog at a premium =
price. It=20
was blooming beautifully during our garden tours in April and everyone =
ordered=20
it regardless of the price. We were pleased with our decision to make =
this one=20
exception. We checked our inventory and had plenty to cover the orders =
to be=20
shipped in late summer. Then one day in late June we were inspecting the =
field=20
and noticed that our wonder plant (don't even ask&hellip;.) was not =
looking so=20
good. That was just the beginning. Every bit of this plant just dried up =
and=20
died. As it turned out, we ended up refunding customers' money for about =
ninety=20
percent of those ordered. It didn&rsquo;t like our hot Texas summer. All =
that=20
survived were the shaded ones in the show gardens. Lesson learned.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>And yes, we have had fifty year old plants that =
didn&rsquo;t=20
appreciate the sweltering heat either. But I must say the old ones we =
grow=20
require less attention. We have the historic plants segregated from the=20
&quot;new&quot; (less than 30 years old) plants in similar =
&quot;patches&quot;.=20
Although there is always some attrition, we never have the problems with =
the=20
&quot;historic patch&quot; that we have with the &quot;modern =
patch&quot;. The=20
old timers, on the whole, seem to be more tolerant of the heat, the =
cold,=20
standing water, grasshoppers, weeds and so forth than <I>many</I> (not =
all) of=20
the modern guys. </P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;Since they have survived over 30 years, are =
historic=20
irises tougher than today's introductions?&quot;</P>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;Should we be using older irises in hybridizing =
to regain=20
vigor, increase, disease resistance, durability?&quot; </P>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;It seems like many of the newer varieties don't =
last the=20
first winter in my garden; I think I'll stick with the older =
ones.&quot;</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Just think how many TBs alone have been introduced in =
the last=20
50 years. How many have stood the test of time? Looking back through my=20
collection of old catalogs, I chose a year at random. In 1951, for =
instance, the=20
following irises were introduced by these well-known iris growers:</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Schreiner's: RASPBERRY RIBBON, COPPER MEDALLION, =
BLACK DIAMOND,=20
WHITE TOWER, CHERRY FLIP, PINK FLUME, PHALANX, PEACH MERINGUE and =
FLARE</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Cooley's: LOVELIGHT, ROSABELLA, SOLID GOLD and =
SPANISH=20
FANDANGO</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Agnes Whiting (BLUE RHYTHM is hers): COCK PHEASANT, =
COGNAC,=20
CREVETTE, FROST GIANT, OPERA PINK, PIRATE KING and THISTLE BLOOM</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>How many of these are still in commerce in 1997? We =
offer=20
PHALANX. Some are listed as available in the HIPS database. I wonder how =

gardeners in the fifties felt about these &quot;newer&quot; varieties. =
Did they=20
perform overall any better than the &quot;newer&quot; varieties of =
today?</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P><B>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;Since they have survived over 30 years, are =
historic=20
irises tougher than today's introductions?&quot;</B>&nbsp;The ones that =
have=20
survived 30 plus years are tougher than all those that didn't survive, =
just like=20
the tougher ones of today will still be around 30 plus years from now. =
One only=20
has to grow SWERTII (1612) or QUAKER LADY (1909) for one year to =
understand how=20
and why they are still around. </P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;<B>Should we be using older irises in =
hybridizing to=20
regain vigor, increase, disease resistance, durability?&quot; </B>Those =
older=20
irises that have stood the test of time have proven that they have =
desirable=20
traits of vigor, increase, disease resistance and, above all, =
durability.=20
Therefore, in my opinion, something certainly could be gained, at least =
along=20
those lines, by including select ones in your breeding program of today. =

Arguably, the iris seems to, more often than not, retain these desirable =
traits=20
while maintaining the desirable modern characteristics we are trying to =
develop.=20
For instance, crossing back to SNOW FLURRY (a pretty decent looking =
historic=20
white which happens to be an ancestor of most modern bearded irises) =
should=20
impart some of the performance traits without substantially affecting=20
&quot;modern&quot; characteristics. VIOLET HARMONY and ROCOCO are other=20
potential &quot;invigorators&quot;. </P>
<P align=3Djustify></P><B>
<P align=3Djustify>&quot;It seems like many of the newer varieties don't =
last the=20
first winter in my garden. I think I'll stick with the older ones.&quot; =

</B>Were the irises of the past ALL tougher than ALL of those bred =
today?=20
Probably not or they would ALL still be available. Clearly, in a =
comparison of=20
20 randomly chosen historic varieties with 20 randomly chosen varieties=20
introduced in the last five years, the historics would, as a lot, =
perform better=20
in the areas of vigor, disease resistance, heat or cold tolerance and=20
durability. After all, that is how they got to be historic. They stood =
the test=20
of time.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>However, if we are selective in choosing newer =
varieties --=20
considering hybridizer success, parentage, performance in other nearby =
gardens,=20
recommendation by other irisarians or judges, local or regional =
symposia,=20
adaptability and so forth &ndash; we should be more successful with all=20
varieties. As 1997 draws to a close, which &quot;modern&quot; varieties =
do you=20
think will be historic in 2027? JESSE'S SONG, THORNBIRD, DUSKY =
CHALLENGER, LADY=20
FRIEND&hellip;.</P></DIV>
<DIV><FONT color=3D#000000 size=3D2>Joe and Donna<BR>Argyle=20
Acres</FONT>&nbsp;</DIV></BODY></HTML>

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