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Well.... today was the day - the meetings are done and the message hangs in
the air like the Goodyear blimp....

gentlemen - start your engines

Today was the first day of garden tours!  We were told at the banquet last
night that we could board the busses at 6:45 this morning... so I barrelled
down for my mocha latte and found Carol Warner, Shirley Pope and Tom Abrego.
Tom was entertaining us with his "Abrego's Convention Bovine Theory".... which
very basically boils down to "people are cattle".  His theory is based on his
own experiences in the Portland convention - and is easily applied.  

Anyway... we piled onto a bus which headed for Colorado Springs.  This is
probably the place where I should tell you that the weather took a chilly turn
overnight.... the air was kind of misty too so the chill sunk in easily.  Most
of us are not prepared for cold weather.... but iris folks are a hardy lot.

Our first stop was a turn around the airforce academy and then onto the
grounds of the Mining Museum.  This is a museum dedicated to the earliest
settlers of the area - and they also had a nice display garden planted.  Bloom
is pretty much at peak.

Two irises that impressed me at this stop were both by Marky Smith.  PRISM is
a '95 IB of a glorius royal blue color, and STARWOMAN is a IB also and more or
less the same wonderful blue color, but the falls only have it as a wiiiiide
band with the center being white.  Not quite a plicata.  Both irises were
absolute perfection of form and since I already grow (and love) PRISM, I'll
only have to find STARWOMAN to make my life complete.

Part of the deal with the Mining Museum was that we had to go in for a mining
video and steam engine demonstration.  Now boyz and girlz, when I heard that
my reaction was not entirely enthusiastic.... but it sure is now.  VERY
interesting.  The video concerned how the area was settled by miners moving
east from the '49 gold rush in California.  And after that, we entered a large
room full of enormous antique machines that an energetic young man ran for
us.....  absolutely enthralling.

The next stop was lunch at the Flying W ranch.  This is an interesting mass
feeding station that resembles a chuck house.  We were all herded (<--- hey,
Tom's right!!) into a large room where we were issued a tin plate.  As we
moved along, a splat of beans landed on the tin plate..then a potato,
barbeque, bisquit and brownie.  We ate on long benches (under cover,
thankyouverymuch).  I got separated from Carol, Shirley and Tom when we were
shopping for scarves and gloves just prior to lunch so I sat with Carla and
George Lankow and had a nice visit with them.  As we talked, the woman next to
me got my attention and said that she really wanted to meet Kathyguest and
could I introduce her.  My life flashed before my eyes since I HAD to assume
that she knew I was me and that I was in some kind of trouble.  It wasn't that
at all... just fellow Iris-L person Rita Butler!  Great fun to meet these

Right after lunch Rita and George and I  went on a speedwalk up to some rock
formations that literally took your breath away... and then it was onto the
Loomis Test Gardens.

The Loomis Test Gardens are a project whereby hybridizers send their seedlings
in and they are evaluated for 3 years.  A video tape is produced each year and
sent to all RVP's (so ask yours if you can borrow it), and careful records are
kept on the performance of the irises.  This is invaluable information for the
hybridizer... and for John Q. Public who wants an iris that will perform.  

Some things I liked there were SUNKIST DELIGHT (Niswonger), pale yellow
standards, white falls with a wide dark yellow band.  ELECTRIC SHOCK
(Messick), off white falls with an astonishing electric blue beard and a
similar splash down the center of the fall.  Blue standards.

FISTERWALD - IB (Innerst), gold with a darker infusion on the falls... orange
beard and a rimmed effect.  ROZ (another Innerst IB) is very similar except
that the infusion becomes kinda reddish brown 'eyelashes'.  The falls flare
out prettily and the standards are open.

RAZZLEBERRY (a silvered orchid by Nelson) had branching like trees.  

Tony Huber had some of his cool species crosses in there.... Nouvel Age, Belle
Promisse and my personal favorite... Enfant Prodige.

One seedling that caught my eye was by Hedgecock... 84-1-S... a dark ruffled
violet with red shoulders.

You should know that it goes without saying that when I mention a plant, it's
a total plant... not just a pretty face.  This means the foliage is clean and
strong, the bloomstalks are well branched and there's a decent ratio of bloom
to fans... and everyone is standing up loud and proud.... even in the brisk
wind that developed.

And I mean BRISK.  By now it was downright chilly... in the 40's and a good
wind with that infernal mist in it.  We had managed to purchase some warm
things back at the Flying W.... my own score being a wool scarf that I could
wrap around my neck and stuff down my sweatshirt.  There is no vanity at an
iris convention.

Next stop was the UNION PRINTERS.... a retirement home for you-guessed-it.
One iris that was performing like a champ there is NORA EILEEN (Richardson)...
a grape color with a navy blue beard and a royal blue wash in the center of
the fall.  I grow several of this hybridizer's plants back at the Guest
Estates... and they all are consistently great performers.

PRINCESS CAROLINE DE MONACO (Cayeux) was a wonderful ruffled confection of
pale blue, white center on the falls and the entire package set off by an
orange beard.

Our own Walter Moores had CONFEDERATE ROYALTY looking like it will be
spectacular in two more days...  right now it's a huge clump with a bazillion
bloomstalks right up there, but only one flower actually open - that's a
purple plicata with white standards, held open with yellow and purple
highlights on the stylearms.

CHINESE NEW YEAR (Ghio) has marmelade colored standards,, dark red falls
centered magenta and orange beards.  Interesting colors.... 

As nice as that garden was, we were not unhappy to get back to the warmth of
the bus and furthermore to the hotel.  After a quick dinner, Bill Smoot and
Bruce Hornstein invited me to join them on a reconnissence (sp??) trip to the
Hyatt where the Federated Garden Clubs were having THEIR convention.  Poked
around there and then raced back to the hotel for Judges Training with Roy
Epperson on Border Bearded irises.  

Judges Training classes, for those who don't know, are not as ominous as they
sound.  Yes... they are designed to teach those of us who aspire to be iris
judges how to recognize a good plant..... but it's also very fine information
for ANYONE... since it deals with the form and culture of the plant in the
garden.  I enjoyed this session very much.... Roy is a good teacher -
interesting, clear and funny.

>From THERE we went to check our bids on the silent auction.  I had been outbid
on everything I bid on, and Bettie Nutter and I almost came to blows over one
japonica... until some other guy came over and bid us both out of the running.

So that was that for today!  We have more bus tours tomorrow.... and the
weatherman has even mentioned the "s" word in the forecast so we are girding
our loins.  

And that's the way it is ....
Kathyguest - in iris heaven

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