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Mislabeled Iris

From: Sharon McAllister <73372.1745@compuserve.com>

The responsibility for correct labeling BEGINS with the commercial garden,
but doesn't END there.  

Plant misidentification was the greatest frustration I encountered in my
many years as co-chairman of the Aril Society plant sale.  In club sales
like this, accurate labeling has to be the responsibility of the donor. 
Those of us handling the sale had no control over it, and no way to correct
mistakes the customers might discover.  The difference is that most people
who buy from club sales EXPECT to get a few mislabeled rhizomes, so they
take it in stride.  [In my experience as a customer, I've often found an
error rate of over 50%.]   There are many contributing factors, but I think
they all boil down to the fact that  Individual growers just don't have the
same incentive for accuracy as businesses who have a reputation to uphold. 

When I went commercial, I included an explicit "true-to-name" guarantee in
our catalog.  Everything from bed preparation through planting, mapping &
maintaining garden labels to digging, cleaning, and labeling rhizomes for
shipment was designed with a goal of 100% accuracy -- but no one is perfect
and if something went out under the wrong label I wanted to know about it
and have the opportunity to correct it. 

Was I in for a surprise!  I got requests for replacement rhizomes from
people who weren't even our customers.  Knowing how irisarians tend to pool
orders, I'd ask for the year and to whom the order had been shipped.  [If
we'd really made a mistake, in addition to sending a replacement or refund
to the customer reporting a problem, I wanted to figure out what had
happened and whether it would have affected any other orders.]   The
response, if any, was inevitably along the lines of  "I don't know.  I got
it from [individual or club], who must have got it from you but I don't
know when".   Logical, although inappropriate, reasoning IF the request had
concerned one of our introductions.  

Yes -- commercial gardens must take responsbility for accurate labeling and
be prepared to correct any mistakes that might be made.  But everyone who
grows iris is a part of the chain.  The hobby gardeners who donate
mislabeled iris to a club sale or send them to trading buddies have a more
significant impact simply because there are so many more of them.

So please verify the identify of any iris you acquire -- whether from an
iris catalog, club sale, or your neighbor -- and if you think it's
mislabeled do NOT pass it on.  

Sharon McAllister

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