Re: PR: Store Bought Irises and Garden Magazines
Good afternoon happy iris folks from a not-quite-as-happy iris person (who
just does NOT appreciate snow.... I made up a song this morning to the tune of
"If I Had a Hammer.." only the title was "If I Had an Uzi" and was inspired by
both the plow dude who plowed me in up to my waist (after my sweet Leonard had
cleared the drive) and the neighbor who begins snowblowing at 5 am... his
drive only and he does not work.... but I digress).
I've tweaked the subject line a bit because these topics are currently near
and dear to my heart. I have been selected to act as Public Relations person
for the AIS and I'm anxious to do a good job. And, it seems to me that both
of these topics really boil down to PR problems.
1. Store bought irises: Now, the problem identified is that we find irises
poorly handled, mislabeled and otherwide rendered undesirable to the novice
gardening public. We are EDUCATED consumers, so we know better than to
purchase them.... or we purchase them with eyes open.
But this doesn't help the 'cause'.... that being introducing new gardeners to
Another problem is that YES, folks like to buy things in bloom... and if an
iris is in bloom at the nursery, it may not be able to recover in the garden
in time to bloom the following year - OR, conversely, a nursery has to have
the confidence and the savvy to sell a non-blooming plant.
The answer is education - and that's our job! We need to express our
appreciation for the plant to the public... and we need to educate them on the
growing habits - and problems. Furthermore, we need to make sure that any
nursery selling irises, either knows how to care for them - or can refer folks
to someone who DOES know.
So - iris shows, display gardens and iris sales are woven together in a
beautiful tapestry that we can all paint.
a) Display Gardens (or any garden for that matter that grows irises). This
is the best way to educate the public. Nothing speaks for irises than seeing
one well - grown. If your local Botanical Gardens or Civic Garden Center does
not have any irises planted - then we need to invite folks to our personal
gardens - and we should be prepared to talk about what grows, what may not,
cultural tricks, problems and their solution and so on and so forth.
b) Iris Shows - not everyone is willing to wander into someone's garden ...
but they might come to ... or stumble upon... an iris show. All the things I
said in the first statement hold true here. It's up to us to use the
background of the beautiful flowers to talk about growing irises and how they
can fit into a garden. One trick that we've employed locally is to give each
visitor to our show a lined piece of paper entitled WISH LIST, and encourage
them to write down their favorite irises.... and bring the list to our sale
(sale info is written on the back of the paper) so that they can purchase
these irises. Another method is to have a People's Choice competition where
folks vote for their favorite iris.... the ballot has spaces for them to fill
in their name, address and telephone No. (we draw for a free iris), and then
we create a mailing list - and send each of those people a coupon good for a
free iris - redeemable at our sale.
b) Sale - this is where we can really shine. Nothing will encourage an iris
lover more than being able to grow an iris. As iris folks ourselves, we can
make sure that we're selling good, healthy rhizomes and plants - that we
provide accurate growing information for the climate - and that all the irises
are correctly labeled.
2) Garden Magazines. We'd love to get our word out to the teeming masses in
a magazine.... but in order to do this, we generally have to have a 'hook' or
something that will catch the interest of the editor and the public. I really
think that one area that has been unexploited is beardless irises. But - tell
me what YOU think. What gets YOUR heart to racing when you read an article?
Whew. Sorry - I didn't really mean to go on and on but these are all things
that I have been turning over in my mind and coincidentally, you've played
right into my hands.
I'd love your feedback. I'd love your (positive) thoughts. And I'd love to
continue this dialog.
Kathy Guest... where the plow managed to plow me in WAIST DEEP this morning
JUST as I was getting ready to leave for work... and I'm just not over it in
the Buffalo Burbs
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