An inexpensive--and not especially durable--solution to markers for iris are
PVC venetian blinds of the cheapest sort found at K-Mart, Wal-Mart and similar
places. They usually cost around $4 for a 36" by whatever shade. I find it
important to use PVC rather than Vinyl, as both are sold side by side in the
A more durable version of this is to have a staple gun and survey stakes close
at hand, and staple the PVC marker to the stake. The solution is also
considerably more costly. One venetian blind makes a very large number of
labels. An equal number of stakes begins to get pricey, and in our warm, wet
southern summers tend to rot rather quickly underground unless
treated--another significant expense.
I cut at the perforation where the cord passes through, use the short outside
piece for one thing, then cut the inner, solid sections into about foot-long
lengths for labels.
Marked on with Hunt Corporation's "Painters (fine)" black markers found in the
crafts section at Wal-Mart, I find the paint-style marker rather durable, as
the ink is water proof and does not sunfade like most felt-tip markers seem to
I've seen it suggested a second, short marker (one of the many possible uses
for the short ends cut off from the blind slats) be buried right beside the
marker. Out of the sun, the pigment is even less likely to fade than that
exposed to the weather.
I take care to copy the name *exactly* from published data--such as the
10-year Check Lists or "Registrations and Introductions" annual booklets
published by the American Iris Society--being careful with spacing, spelling
and such. Names can get confused if not recorded accurately. I also watch
the "Additions and Corrections" published in the front of the annual R&I.
Rarely some change of information affects my records
An example--"Carolina Rose" marked quite plainly on a small iris I was given
turns out to have been CAROLYN ROSE, a miniature tall bearded plicata of
considerable charm. When I next saw the woman who gave the iris to me and
told her the corrected spelling I could see in her face a total lack of
interest--or a simple disbelief in my accuaracy. I dropped the matter. Her
garden accuracy and mine are two quite different matters. I'm responsible for
I also find it useful to note the originator and year of introduction. Years
ago I used larger labels and included the pedigree--it was a wonderful
learning tool for me, but I don't do this any more, as I use the computer with
MS Access for a database to keep a list by classification of the irises I
grow. This is used frequently, both on screen and in a printed-out version
I can take the list ("catalog" or inventory in a personal sense) to the garden
where the pedigree, description and other data are recorded. I find my memory
isn't as quick to soak up information as it was when I was in my teens and
twenties, so the hard copy of the record is a handy reference frequently
Irises as marked are on occasion quite radically different from what is
recorded in those official publications. In those cases what I have is
considered suspect concerning correct identification. Suppliers can and do
make mistakes, and irises received in trade, or as gifts, are sometimes not
the one in the records.
One tends to acquire "No-ID" (or "noid") irises over the years, often very
difficult to identify with any certainty. The hunt for identity is a fun and
challenging project, and a perpetual one at that. I enjoy them just as much
as I do the ones of known and clearly correct designation.
You may be able to tell from the above that I have been bitten rather deeply
by the iris "bug." A more casual or new grower of iris is not likely to go to
the level of work I put into what I do, nor would this be expected.
After all, the object of gardening and of growing iris is to enjoy and
participate in the beauty of nature, not to approach the matter with the
intensity of a coin collector!
Welcome to our group! Don't be overwhelmed by the occasionally heavy and
technical nature of some converstions (...in which my name may occasionally
appear....). The list is a smorgasboard of information, opinion and ideas,
some of which are casual, some heady, some just for fun.
Take what you can use, ignore the rest--and please, feel free to ask
questions. We may tell you far more than you ever wanted to know. There's no
such thing as a "dumb" question if the person genuinely wants to know the
answer. Most of us take considerable delight in answering questions--and even
on occasion find out things we never realized WE didn't know.
Neil Mogensen z 7 western NC mountains
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