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Re: AIS: Educating the Educators

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

>I believe anyone who tries this must address the issues from the greater
>horticultural perspective. By this I mean don't see this as an opportunity to
>chat up the Society angle, or the showing or hybridizing angles which often
>dominate such lectures. I've never run into a professional horticulturalist
>who thought that way.
>Start with the assumption that for these people irises will definitionally be
>part of larger garden schemes. Approach the issues botanically and clarify the
>different groups of irises and their individual cultural requirements with
>clear and candid assessments of their strengths, their weaknesses, and their
>range utility as plant material.  Address managing predictable problems, come
>down hard on prevention rather than cure, and be very informed and informative
>about responsible use of modern chemicals, and the alternatives, and about
>environmental issues. You might use an AIS judge, but that in itself is not an
>adequate qualification in itself, I don't think, if that judge is not a well-
>informed gardener in tune with what's happening outside the iris patch.

I usually hate me-too messages, but in this case I have to chime in.  I've
done a fair amount of talking about irises since my book came out, and this
is by far the most successful approach for groups that need an introduction
to the genus.  Talk of AIS and of the fine points of hybridizing or
dwelling on show-related characteristics of TBs kills the initial
enthusiasm.   Save it for later--much later.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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