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Geddes Douglas on Culture

I have just been reminded -- somewhat emphatically -- that I no longer qualify
as one of the "youngsters" because I've been growing iris for over 40 years.  At
least it made me realize that some of the advice that was so readily available
to me when I was starting out is not so easily accessible today.  So I thought
our newcomers might be interested in some fify-year-old words of wisdom, which
are still useful today.

>From 1947, the words of the inimitable Geddes Douglas:

"Fifty years ago the iris in the average garden, whether in America, England or
upon the continent, was either a hybrid of the species variegata and pallida,
both hardy, tough wild plants of central Europe, or a hybrid of one of these
with the dwarf bearded.  These hybrids may have occurred in nature or they may
have been man-made, but in either case they were as hardy as their parents and
as contemptuous of bad climate or a neglectful gardener.  After the turn of the
centruy, however, there came a change in the character of the garden iris.
Breeders in their quest for new and different colors brought in the tender
species from the lower Mediterranean and the Near East and cross-bred them with
the hardy European hybrids.  Through the intervening years new and beautiful
colors have resulted.  Height and branching have advanced along with the size of
the flower.  But, in addition, we have also brought along growing
characteristics identified with the tender species, and until these bad
characteristics are bred out the proper culture of iris will be a subject of
prime importance if one wishes to have a garden bedecked with the most new and
fascinating colors."

IMHO, these "bad characteristics" have not been bred out -- and today's growers
can benefit from following Douglas' cultural advice concerning the new, more
tender race of TBs.  As Editor of the AIS Bulletin, he had sent out
questionnaires to iris experts all over the country and about 85 responded.  The
first question he posed was:

"In your particular part of the country, what do you consider the most important
single item in the culture of Tall Bearded Iris?"

He arranged the answers in the order of their importance, based on the number of

1.	Good Drainage
2.	Good Soil
3.	Sunshine
4.	Clean Cultivation
5.	Winter Protection
6.	Fertilizer
7.	Borer Control
8.	Frequent Resetting
9.	Proper Selection of Variety Best Suited to Conditions Under Which It Is
to be Grown

Food for thought....

Sharon McAllister 7372.1745@compuserve.com
Excerpts taken from "The Iris: An Ideal Hardy Perennial"

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