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Re: AIS: Mike's Challenge

I've been growing irises since the early 80's. A dear friend gave me one of those old white and purple irises that no one knows the name of. Then I saw Chuck Chapman's catalogue in 1997 and I became hooked on the miniatures and medians, since TB's don't grow well for me. I've never shown an iris at a show, although I am a student judge. The only place irises are shown here is at the local exhibition at the fair in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Last year, the 2005 NALS (North American Lily Society) Convention was held in Winnipeg. I did submit 20 lily stems and won 7 ribbons for my first time effort, so I do know the thrill.

I mostly grow dwarfs and medians; currently the count is around 700 different irises. My garden is a display garden for both DIS & MIS. I hold several tours each year. Many of my visitors have never seen such a variety of irises, especially the tiny ones. I ensure that I have some pots of what's blooming available for sale as well, to help support my obsession.

A few years back, I rec'd a huge order of irises, rather too early in the season here to plant them in my nursery beds. Because that nursery was selling out their entire stock, there were at least 100 of about 20 different MDB's and SDB's. A friend asked me to share her stand at a community club sale almost the very next day. Since I didn't have time to pot up the irises, I took them bare root, along with a container of soil to show people how to plant them, including a picture of each iris. I also only took irises that have survived here for a few years in my Z3 garden.

My friend was selling lilies and we both are very good at teaching rookies about our specialty. Our table was constantly crowded and we sold most of our stock at very reasonable prices. My best memory was of the children crowded around the front listening to everything I said, with their parents close by. Many children bought a couple of irises, armed with the planting instructions in case they didn't remember.

This year, I plan on tracking which breeder's irises do best here and will report on that this fall. For example, of the 32 dwarfs and medians by Willott that I've had since 1998 to 2002, only 1 didn't survive it's first winter. Needless to say, I bought another 24 of Willott's intros this year. Paul Black's irises do as well here too. Although I only had 16 of Black's irises, I have 22 new ones to look forward to. I buy a few of these breeder's irises each year.

I would grow irises even if no one was interested in seeing my collection. My main goal is testing for hardiness here. I'm not really interested in hybridizing at this point, but who knows what the future will bring...

El, near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Z3
MIS & DIS Display Garden

----- Original Message ----- From: <Autmirislvr@aol.com>
To: <iris@hort.net>
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 5:49 PM
Subject: Re: [iris] AIS: Mike's Challenge

In a message dated 2/4/2006 5:14:44 P.M. Central Standard Time,
ChatOWhitehall@aol.com writes:

<<I think they should be allowed just enjoy their personal plant. >>
To each his or her own.

Many people wouldn't grow irises if they didn't show! I think a lot of the
AIS members fall in this class. It's the thrill of the competition.

I've shown at the local show each year since 1985 . . except last year when
I had to fill in as a judge. Even so I brought irises for 'exhibition only'
since it was an early season. I've won 'Best Specimen' three times. The
last time was really an accident! I'm a judge, vote ballots, give iris programs
in the community, etc.,

But my heart is in the garden. I'd rather hybridize than eat. Really!
But, I was just as happy growing a large patch of that bi-toned blue (almost)
that I discovered at fourteen. You've got to know a 20 x 20 foot bed of that
is impressive!

Most of the people that I've met in the 20+ years that I've been involved
with modern irises don't want to belong to any clubs. They just want to enjoy
their flowers! You have to respect their rights, but make the opportunity

We're not all meant to be garden club or society people! I wasn't! It's
still an uneasy fit. But I've met a lot of great people. Iris people rank
pretty high on my list . . . after grandchildren and irises, of course! <vbg>

If you don't cross them, you can't plant them!
Betty W. in South-central KY Zone 6 ---
Bridge In Time Iris Garden@website:
_Reblooming Iris - Home Page_ (http://www.rebloomingiris.com/)
_iris-photos archives_ (http://www.hort.net/lists/iris-photos/)
_iris-talk archives_ (http://www.hort.net/lists/iris-talk/)
_AIS: American Iris Society website_ (http://www.irises.org/)

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