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OT: Back again

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

Hi, I'm back on Iris-talk after an exciting week in Orlando.  Curiously,
the temperatures were much more comfortable in Florida than in Virginia
during the week--and the last few days, when we have added 95-105 degree
heat to our drought conditions. I'm irrigating almost continuously now, but
the soil is still bone dry a few inches below the surface.  Every kind of
plant seems in suspension except for the bearded irises, which glory in
these conditions.

The sky is getting darker this afternoon and I can hear thunder in the
distance. The computer weather radar suggests we should be getting heavy
rain in about two hours.  It will be very welcome despite the potential for
destruction.  But--as usual, there is a gap in the line of thunderstorms
that could very easily pass over Farmville.  That's what usually happens.
We are desperate for an end to four drought summers in a row (punctuated by
the abnormally wet winter of 1997-98).

Anyhow, some of you asked how Justin came out at the tournament.  He got a
fourth place in kata (forms) and an eighth place in fighting.  Pretty darn
good for the smallest guy in the 12-year-old advanced division, and good
enough to qualify for the Junior Olympics in August.  We are also hoping
for a bid from the AAU national team, which would mean a chance to compete
internationally.  OK, OK, enough of this crowing.

Some of you suggested some public gardens to visit in Orlando and we did
two of them, the Leu gardens and the Bok Tower Gardens.  Thanks for the
tips. Both were wonderful and epitomized the rich subtropical
possibilities.  Almost made me think of giving up iris and moving to
Florida to grow gingers and orchids--Almost.  And, of course, we had to
visit some of the theme parks.  We saw Sea World, Disney's Animal Kingdom,
and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure.  Of these, Animal Kingdom was
far and away the best in terms of plantings and landscape design.  The
Tropical Asia area was fantastic, with literally tens of thousands of
tropical plants designed in a very naturalistic way, so well done that you
had to remind yourself it was all contrived.  I was transported back to
1980, when I did field research in Papua New Guinea.

Nice to be back and to hear the familiar "voices" of iris-talkers.

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

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