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Re: HYB: SURVIVORS (way too long)

  • To: iris-talk@onelist.com
  • Subject: Re: HYB: SURVIVORS (way too long)
  • From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 20:33:30 -0800
  • References: <917459402.24117@onelist.com>

From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>

Randy Meuir in Missouri wrote:
> The seedlings have remained as planted with no assistance.
> I do not know what will come of my breeding program but each year I
> continue to abuse my seedlings in the same manner. 
> Linda, I believe you said you are hybridizing but if you are
> not you should be. 
> Therefore, (this is probably off the wall) I believe that 
> the most important requirement in producing SURVIVORS is the seedling  
> selection process. And the right mix of genetics could come from most
> popular cultivars grown today. 

And others have added more about selecting rugged TB cultivars for the
middle part of the US.

How wonderful to hear all this!  At the risk of boring all the list old
timers to the point of screaming and so the newer listers won't have to
go to the archives, I'll share my hybridizing history and motivation

I have been on a quest for ..nearly 30 years to find irises that will
live and perform with minimal care under my growing conditions.  Out of
the very first batch that I ordered, some (turns out a couple were Lloyd
Z's) did really well for me, some grew well, but never bloomed, and some
croaked right away.  I assumed it was a cultivar specific thing and
subsequent experience & hearsay has convinced me that is true.  I wanted
more variety, so I started trying to figure out what to get that would
do well.  30 yrs later, I think I'm a lot better at figuring it out.  

In 1985 (?) I joined AIS, and I've lost track of when we formed a local
iris club (5+ yrs ago).  I went to my first show in Lebanon Tennessee
sometime in the late 80s especially to look at what had managed to bloom
in spite of one of our spectacular late freezes.  All the experienced
AIS folks were vastly amused by my enthusiastic note taking and sniffing
of all the blooms, which were mostly floppy older & not terribly
attractive blue or purple cultivars.  Plus VANITY, VANITY everywhere.  

Can't remember for sure when I made my first cross, but it was before I
bought The World of Irises & knew 'it couldn't be done' - MULBERRY ROSE
(an incredibly reliable bloomer here) X I. pallida.  I wanted the
reliable bloom of M R with the fragrance of pallida, which very often
gets zapped by late winter freezes and doesn't bloom.  Forgot all about
the plants, 'till one spring after many others were frosted, I saw their
tall bloom stalks out in my so called perennial trial bed, buried in
tall fescue.  

So that inspired me to put pollen from nearly everything I had in bloom
on pallida the next time it managed to make it thru the freezes.  Now I
have a row of some of the homeliest tough ol' irises you ever did see. 
Actually, I really like a few of them - one in particular looks like it
must have CARIBBEAN DREAM as pollen parent - a beautiful clear blue. 
I've dug and dumped the ones that fall over and the ones with flowers
that are floppier than pallida.  Some have pallida fragrance, tho none
as potent as that first cross.  

Then I went cyber, and within a few days on the net, found the brand new
iris list and have been totally out of control over this iris obsession
ever since.  Woops, I've lost track of the questions here...Oh yes,
Clarence Mahan, Sharon McAllister, Tom Little, and Walter Moores
(apologies if I've forgotten other key advice givers) all did their best
to answer my questions and inspire me to hybridize & with their help, I
started putting pollen on stigmas instead of style arms, improved my pod
success each year since and have all kinds of interesting crosses coming
along now, including some bee pods off some of the MULBERRY ROSE X
pallida seedling and crosses of it with whatever struck my fancy at the

Year before last was the first year of 'real' crosses with any thought
as to genetic makeup & none of those have bloomed yet.  In keeping with
the suggestion of only crossing the best with the best, I have put a lot
of effort into identifying which ARE the best here (most reliably normal
blooming), what, if anything, in their background makes them the best
(hybridizer, genetic makeup, climate, date, maternal line, prepotent [is
that the word I mean?] ancestors, and anything else I can think of) so
maybe I can get more 'best' parents.

I don't know if selection or genetics are more important, but intend to
find out!  Stay tuned.  After seeing how NEW SNOW is growing so well
here and reading Jeff Walters' bit about mesopotamica & figuring out
that trojana may also be a survivor, I want to grow about 20 seedlings
from all the species that are part of modern TB makeup.  I want to get
some idea of what the range of vegetative growth habits is for all the
species & that should give some idea of the relative importance of
genetic makeup versus hybridizer selection for plant fitness

Gee whiz, I can't shut up!  Apologies to everybody for filling so much

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA

Well, that's a long yak - seedlings from last year's crosses (other than
the pallida crosses)include DESERT REALM X MONTEVIDEO, GOLDEN APPLE X
respect for the enthusiastic novice ...:)]

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