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Re: HIST: Argus Pheasant, PBF, and Mystery Irises

Anner, Thank you for your comments. I enjoyed reading them. I don't really look upon my unknowns as being problems. I just enjoy being able to figure things out. I have many unknowns that I have collected in the past three years that may very well be unregistered iris. I know how Southerns are. If we have a seed we plant it. Until 4 years ago I never even knew that there was an AIS or HIPS. I can see how many natural hybrids could have come into being and passed among friends. That being said I have also been able to ID several unknowns I have collected so I know that named iris were also being shared. Since I started with iris in 2003 I have bought from many and various sources. I have bought several named iris  that turned out to be something else. Do I feel ripped off? No. I think in every case the iris that I have bought on ebay that the seller honestly thought that they knew the ID of the iris they were selling. In some cases they were wrong. I have gotten several bad
 IDs from commercial growers. Here again I think that it was just an honest mistake. It really makes no difference if I know the right name for an iris as far as being able to enjoy the beauty of that iris. It is just that I like to know and if either of my Granddaughters had a desire to grow iris I will leave my collection to them so I want my records to be as correct as possible. Regards, Lee Mincy

ChatOWhitehall@aol.com wrote:  In a message dated 5/15/2007 10:00:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
lmincy@yahoo.com writes:

<if the really old ones are correct. 

I don't think the situation is quite as dire as this, at least not yet. 

There are a number of members of AIS and HIPS who are very familiar with the 
more famous of the older irises, including, or especially, if you will, the 
Dykes Medal winners. Some of these, including Phil Edinger, who is HIPS 
Cultivar ID Chairman for a reason, joined AIS when they were very young. Phil has 
observed on more than one occasion that when he joined, the 1939 Check List 
was the current checklist. 

<it won the Dykes in 1933. I am basing this on the photo on HIPS and that has 
been verified by someone who is certain they know. My Coralie has the form of 
a 1930's iris so it cannot be right. It has the form of Cardinal and 

Form often tends often to lag behind on color developments. 'Coralie' has 
'Cardinal', "Dauntless', and 'Dominion' in its immediate pedigree, but its 
claim to fame is color. For my money, 'Coralie' is not a patch on 'Cardinal,' 
which is absolutely gorgeous in the same way that a velvet dinner jacket with 
dull satin revers is gorgeous, but, as I have grown it, is also the utter 
pits on bud count. A bed of Dykes Medal winners typically raises many 
interesting questions. 

<as red and even looks at least maroon on the HIPS photos is just not that 
reddish in my climate and soil. 

Seeing through the eyes of the introducer's time is difficult. And irises 
are indeed different in different soils, and in different lights, and to 
different eyes. These variables are the givens! That said, photos are a trap. HIPS 
has always had a love/hate relationship with photos. We use them as tools, 
because we must, but we view each and every one with the most jaded skepticism. 

HIPS appears to have been changing in the past few years, and not for the 
better. I have observed a trend in some quarters to loosen the austere approach 
to identification which has been one of the defining characteristics of the 
group and, in my opinion, one of its greatest strengths. Along with this 
there has been an apparent tendency on the part of some to undervalue the degree 
to which expertise in the matter of historic irises generally must be 
developed through long experience, and patient study. A giddy enthusiasm is not the 
same thing as knowledge.

Understand, please, Lee, I am not talking about you, I am talking with you, 
thinking aloud about your problem.

Regarding identity: I, and those in HIPS who instilled in me what I believe 
to be the best mindset in which to approach these issues, have always been 
conservative about attributing identity to irises, or accepting any attributed 
identity. We expect that confusions will have occurred. We know there are 
people who are not aware of the complex issues --complex if only because of the 
enormous number of irises which have been introduced-- but are just winging 
it right and left, and we cringe, because well-meaning folks winging it is 
precisely one of the reasons The Unknowns Mess-- so called--became such a 
pervasive problem in the first place. 

Add to all this a few unscrupulous types, commercial and otherwise, and a 
century during which honest people's honest mistakes can multiply 
geometrically, and you have a nomenclatural climate in which the wise student of historic 
irises will find it well to be circumspect, and pensive. This does not mean 
no one can have fun any more! 

I salute your pensive approach to the matter of your historic irises. I also 
think you should take it seriously that your 'Argus Pheasant' shows PBF. 
There are irises with PBF that are not on Edinger's list, but that the subject 
of our discussion is a Dykes Medal winner argues that Phil Edinger would 
probably have known it, grown it, and observed it closely in various gardens. 

One of the ways HIPS members resolve their more recalcitrant Unknowns is to 
send a rhizome to Phil to be grown on and observed closely. I am confident 
that he would be very interested in any alleged 'Argus Pheasant' with PBF. As 
a first step, you may wish to drop him a letter and ask him this: "If I am 
growing an 'Argus Pheasant' obtained from XYZ commercial source, and that plant 
is manifesting faint PBF, have you any idea what I am growing? I do not see 
'Argus Pheasant' on your published list. Is 'Argus Pheasant' known to be 
mixed with something in the trade? What do you think? 

You may have a Mystery Iris there, Lee. How exciting! In 1999 I wrote a 
little essayette to this very list about Mystery Irises. It has been reprinted 
at least once of which I am aware, and you may find it diverting, too.



Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA 
Jamestown Expedition and Settlement Quadricentennial May, 1607- May, 2007
"At one time...it was all Virginia."

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