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Re: Retro Hybridizing

>Celia Storey asks...

What is "mulchability"?

My poor way of expressing "Good perennial qualities."

A low maintenance perennial should be capable of growing in a weed
suppressing, moisture retentive, mulch. Nearly all Tall Beardeds succumb to
rot, or insect and small animal munching, when mulched.

Over a long period (60 =B1 years?), of growing in diverse areas and climates=
some iris cultivars are identified as having traits which allow practices
such as 'no spray' no frequent division and resetting, 'grows well
mulched,' blooms in high to medium shade, etc., etc., etc.

Example: An iris cultivar has grown for nearly a dozen years in the ditch,
at the end of our driveway. (Dropped off the pickup taking a load to the
'rough compost heap.') The cultivar has never been divided, fertilized,
sprayed, weeded or cleaned out. It is in partial shade, and receives a
heavy blanket of oak leaves each fall. Despite the adverse growing
conditions, this naturalized clump furnishes sufficient bloom each year
that it has been (to now!) spared the grubbing hoe. The variety is Indian
Chief (Ayres '29)

There are probably approx. 50 to 100 varieties out of 50,000 registered
cultivars up to 1966, that exhibit durability on this order. In the great
'craps shoot' of hybridizing, a few individual clones receive "The
Durability Sweepstakes" assortment of traits that result in nonpareil
garden qualities. Only the passage of time reveals these exemplary

When used in crosses, these exceptional varieties have an exceedingly small
chance of passing on the entire palate of their desirable qualities. We can
no more expect their progeny to be 'winners' than we can expect that the
child of a lottery winner will in turn, claim the coveted jackpot.

If this were not the case, where would the excitement be in a seedling patch=

Mike,  mikelowe@tricities.net   --   http://www.tricities.net/~mikelowe/
South Central Virginia, USA
USDA Zone 7A, pH-5.4,  very sandy loam

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