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HIST: Woolworth's, and Mass Market Rarities

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: HIST: Woolworth's, and Mass Market Rarities
  • From: Henryanner@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1998 08:44:18 -0600 (MDT)


I'd like to comment on a question that has arisen in relation to a post I

There has been a recurrent thread on this list about those irises one
sees--along with plants of other genera-- in mass market garden centers in
cello baggies, boxes, or something similar. We have discussed where they come
from, and where they are going. Walta bought some to see what was what and got
duds and a pretty good orange TB. Gunnar in Sweden bought one and despaired
over the early historic which bloomed. Linda has bought them and found some
hardy treasures including her beloved Probably Vitafire. I am confident that
many other people have purchased these, and had a range of experiences from
delight to indignation.  

I think it is important to reiterate the context of the passage I quoted from
Ms. Winspear's letter. This passage should not be seen as a hearty
recommendation that folks buy irises in such places, although folks do and
folks will, for there is another world of irises out there beyond that of the
"irisarians". I believe that it is in this world, some of which is centered on
the European wholesale trade,  that "lost" historics may be found. The irises
being discussed are bearded irises.

As I mentioned in my initial post, Suz was responding to some questions from
me about historics available in Europe.  We have heard interesting things here
from Gunnar in relation to his Swedish nursery center which was offering some
irises we would consider "rare". Edmundas has also mentioned many very
interesting oldies seen on his trip to a wholesale nursery in Germany. And now
Suz is indicating that she thinks, based on what has emerged from Woolworth
baggies in the past, that, in the megawholesale area of European horticulture
supply, some interesting things may indeed survive. 

I neither recommend nor caution against people buying these irises-- or the
etiolated clematis, or shriveled tree peonies, or sprouting bulbs often seen
with them. I've never seen a display in which the iris rhizomes still looked
and smelled viable, but that is only my experience. Quite obviously these are
not your finer highend product, lovingly cared for by your finer trained
personnel. Nor are they invariably inexpensive.  But the point I was
attempting to share was that they may have significance beyond these issues.

Anner Whitehead
Commercial Source Chairman
Historic Iris Preservation Society, AIS
Henryanner@aol.com, HIPSource@aol.com 

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