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AIS: Popularizing non-TB iris

From: HIPSource@aol.com

In a message dated 12/5/99 3:20:11 AM Eastern Standard Time, DWiris@aol.com 

<<  I attended the AIS Board Meeting in November and  someone made the point 
that the general public is primarily interested in  tall bearded irises 
because they are the showiest.  Therefore, to attract and keep members, AIS 
must cater to the desires of the majority. >>

Well, I don't know about all that. I mean, we keep hearing that, but are we 
certain we know that? And even if it is true it doesn't follow that AIS can't 
take an active role in the situation and do a little consciousness-raising, 
starting with its own. Why should the organization definitionally be in 
thrall to one very limited interest when our mission is supposed to be 

Personally, I think that 'general public' around here is mostly interested in 
water irises at the moment, and I also think that many people who garden 
seriously avoid tall bearded irises and, indeed, many modern hybrids like the 
plague precisely because they are so 'showy', and, like the hybrid tea rose, 
or dinnerplate dahlias, convey the impression that they have been bred for 
the show bench rather than to be elements in a garden compostion.  

If you push only showy irises you will attract only those interested in showy 
irises, and showing irises, but if you want to encourage all sorts of 
gardeners to know and appreciate the remarkable range contained in the Genus 
and its hybrids, including  the horticulturally savvy whose tastes follow 
horticultural trends and the creative and adventurous whose tastes create 
these trends, not to mention the rest of the professional horticultural 
community who, in my experience is appalling ignorant of irises, then the 
educational task becomes more difficult, or more interesting if you prefer, 
but that direction is clearly where the action is, and that is where 
gardeners are, and where a vital pool of potential new members is, many of 
whom are themselves postioned to spred the word to others. However,  I'll 
tell you point blank that our failure to date in being able to define 
effective environmentally-conscious procedures to address predictable 
cultural issues impacts the degree to which we can sustain any credibility 
with many such people. 

Me, I'd like to see AIS hitch up its hoop skirts and leap merrily into a 
wilder arena, move on beyond the show bench and commit itself to a vital role 
in the greater world of modern horticulture and gardening. And I believe that 
such is not only possible, it is imperative for the organization's survival.

Anner Whitehead

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