TB: Cult: Tender Dykes
It seems, from recent posts about the difficulty of maintaining Dykes beds, that there are several tender varieties that need special care.
Among them would be Vanity, Kilt Lilt, Before the Storm, ElMohr, Edith Wolford and others whose names escape me at the moment.
Problems range from annual die and replace, to substandard bloom stalks, to no bloom at all.
To set things in perspective, W.R. DYKES, the iris named posthumously after Dykes, and said by many to be his masterpiece, was described in the Schreiner catalogs of the 1930s as: "Not dependable and a shy bloomer. Not up to expectations. Largest, softest, most delightful crinkled standards, and crinkled falls of soft golden yellow tone with reddish or purplish spots which vary from year to year. Bright red-orange beard. Not an easy grower."
-from The Iris Chronicles, Vol. VIII W.R. Dykes
Because of their prestige in winning the medal, Dykes winners are varieties that some irisarians will want to preserve and continue to grow, and therefore the usual practice of trashing unsuccessful iris will need to be replaced by Dykes growers by use of special care. It's the price we pay.
So, the questions to be asked are:
Which varieties are tender?
Do they thrive in some zones and not in others?
What does their particular problem seem to be?
For those who grow them successfully to describe their soil, climate and other growing conditions, and what special steps they may take.
For those who are unable to grow them, the same description of conditions.
So we can proceed in a useful manner, I'd first ask members of the list to send me, off list, the Dykes varieties they grow, ranking them:
3: grows like a weed, blooms annually, can't kill it.
2: succesful, but has good bloom years and off bloom years, 2 or fewer increases on average.
1: tender Dykes, dies, doesn't bloom at all, rot magnet or other problems (please specify, giving your location.)
0: Completely unsuccessful. Must replace annually or semi-annually.
I'll tabulate this list and post the responses for comment, especially from those who are able to take measures to grow these varieties successfully.
"He had the enviable quality of being the most severe critic of his own seedlings, and he was always keenly anxious that only those that showed a real improvement upon sorts already available should be named and distributed. It is a most remarkable fact, and one which might be pondered over by raisers today, that out of the many thousands of seedlings of May and June flowering bearded irises which Dykes raised during the last twenty years, only 29 have been named and distributed commercially."
- an article In Memorium by Percy Murrell.
- from The Iris Chronicles, Op cit. Vol. VIII.