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SDBs, Okies, and convention nostalgia

The SDB season is now in full swing here. I had half a dozen
open in the last few days. I didn't really plan it this way,
but as I walk around the garden I notice a preponderance of
irises bred in Oklahoma: MICHAEL PAUL, CUBAN CUTIE, PIRATE'S
PATCH, not to mention the first MDB to bloom this year, APRIL

Well, I first got interested in irises in the late 1970's. I
met a few Oklahoma iris growers through the AIS robin program.
Then somehow I joined the Sooner State Iris Society and started
doing illustrations for the cover of their newsletter. By the
time the 1980 convention in Tulsa came around, I knew as many
iris people in Oklahoma as I did in New Mexico!

That was my first (and so far only) AIS convention. I enjoyed
it immensely. As often happens at convention, the irises that
put on the best show there stick in your mind out of all proportion
to their actual importance. That convention left TWIST OF FATE,
MICHIGAN PRIDE, and CHICKEE (MTB) firmly rooted in my iris world.

When I began acquiring irises again a few years ago, I found
myself somehow ending up with a lot of Oklahoma irises from a
couple decades back, rather than building a collection from the
latest varietal comments in the Bulletin. No harm done--they
look great!

BTW, the Sooner State Iris Society kept me on their mailing list
for ten years without ever seeing a dues payment. I didn't request
any such thing--maybe it was gratitude for the cover art.

In a more coldly logical world, none of this would have anything
to do with the irises themselves. Yet I find it hard to separate
the three things--the irises, the convention, and the people.

The iris people I knew in Oklahoma all projected an unselfconscious
hospitality and a delightful, contagious enthusiasm. The irises
SEEM to share those qualities--no hint of fussiness in either growth
or appearance. But that could just be my imagination.

So maybe my garden has more old Okie irises than it ought to. But
I don't mind. They're friends.


Tom Tadfor Little         tlittle@lanl.gov  -or-  telp@Rt66.com
technical writer/editor   Los Alamos National Laboratory
Telperion Productions     http://www.rt66.com/~telp/

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