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  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: CULT: HISTORIC VS. MODERN TB's - lengthy
  • From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 04:50:57 -0700 (MST)

Joe and Donna Spears wrote:
> 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.......

There has been a LOT of discussion on this topic on the list (probably
too much to read through).  If you have a lot of spare time, check the
archives under CULT, rot, varieties, cultivars, and maybe historic,
regional differences, ...

This is the reason I went hunting for irisarians, started going to iris
shows, joined AIS, helped start a local club, and joined the iris-list -
trying to figure out how to predict which iris would be the 'new'
historics.  I had NO idea it would be so impossible.  

One idea we kicked around on the iris-list last year, but never followed
through on (partly because we couldn't figure out how to do it without
hurting hybridizers feelings), was a 'performance' symposium.  

Based on performance from two very different stressful environments in
last year's extremely stressful bloom season, it looks like STAIRWAY TO
HEAVEN and SULTRY MOOD will wind up on the future's historic list.  The
two stressful locations were Jeff Walters' mountains in northern Utah
and Julie Allen's, Phil Williams', and mine in east and middle
Based on posts to the list from the northeast and what I saw in Phil
Williams' garden in southern middle Tennessee this spring, I suspect
SHIRLEY M will also be there.

Maybe crossing back to the historics is the 'best' way to improve the
odds of getting a really durable iris.  When picking out what to try
here now, I look for several things:

1) irises that don't bloom early - one year I did a comparison of the
national popularity poll bloom season frequency distribution of bloom
season of tall bearded iris versus the Region 7 distribution.  At the
national level, the earlier bloomers are more popular than in our Region
where those are more likely to get frozen every spring.

2) offspring of parents that originate from different parts of the
country - maybe selected in California (has to be competitive with other
modern intros or they would throw it out) but at least one parent or
recent ancestor has to come from the southeast or be one I know will do
well here.

3) no linebred irises, unless the line is of irises that do well here

Year before last, I tried a selection of historic irises, and many of
them did not do very well compared to the majority of newer
aquisitions.  My impression is that some of the more famous ones are not
all that vigorous or resistant to rollercoaster freezes, but are grown
because they were the 'first' in a new color or form or something.  The
big, floppy, dog-eared ones from inexpensive collections of irises that
didn't win top AIS awards (no ground breaking characteristics) that
nobody kept labelled are the truly tough ones that are grown as casual
landscape accent plants, cut for church decorations, and shared with

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA

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