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Re: Iris breeding

I read in the AIS Bulletin that there are from 800 to 900 registrations
annually.  Do all of these varieties represent improvements over their
parents or existing varieties?  Seems unlikely.  In fact, comparing
pictures from THE WORLD OF IRISES (1978?) with pictures of today's
varieties, I can see no overall improvement, if anything just some slight
refinements.  In other words, for TBs at least, not much to show for 20
years of development.

When one scans iris books and publications (there are certainly some
exceptions) one sees mostly "mug shots" of individual flowers--definitely
the case for the big catalogs.   This speaks volumes about our obsession
with the single bloom and by and large, neglect of gardenability.  If a
beautiful new iris is also a good grower all over the continent, it seems
to be mostly by accident.   Can we conclude that breeders are catering to
collectors and not to the general gardener?  Is this a result of economic
forces; are collectors the main buyers of iris rhizomes?

The future for irises seems to lie in the more gardenable forms like
Louisianas and  Siberians and perhaps the new things being developed from
Iris versicolor.  Is the era of the TB over?

Best wishes, Bill
William A. Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943 USA
phone (804) 223-6172
FAX (804) 223-6374

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