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Re: AIS Award system/Opinion of general public

At 08:44 AM 11/29/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Donald Mosser wrote:
>> I'm totally fascinated by the expectation that all new iris introductions
>> are expected to be fully tested and bare the stamp of approval from all
>> regions where it might be purchased and grown, prior to their introduction.
>> This sounds like U.S. government mentality - "make it safe and reliable
>> enough for everyone to grow" or "an iris in every pot (or flat or 4-pack)"
>> (sorry for the political simile).  *********

>Then, are you saying to do away with the AIS award system?

No, I'm just suggesting that every iris introduced doesn't need to be Queen
of Show everywhere in order to be a desirable garden plant.  That's not to
say that the AIS award system could not be improved if you feel it is being
poorly implemented.

>Most of the irises purchased are be regular gardeners, not AIS members.
These >people look to the catalogs who sell them as being the best of the
best.  If >AIS gives awards to poor irises, what are we saying to the
general public?
>If we are to succeed, we need to change the way this whole process is 
>done, so what goes to the public is the best...or at least better than it 
>is now!

I'm betting that these "regular gardeners" who are purchasing most of the
irises are looking to their local garden centers or their local Wal-Mart or
K-Mart.  Given that assumption, I would say that the AIS award system has
little to do with which irises are mass marketed to the "regular gardener"
or general public.  It would be interesting to get the inside scoop on how
the buyers, from one of those companies such as Better Homes and Gardens
Products which packages irises and bulbs for mass market at Wal-Mart, make
their choices as to which irises to market.  I thinking economics play a
greater role in the choice than AIS awards.

  As far as catalog suppliers of irises go, Schreiner's is the only one I've
seen who regularly advertises in mainstream U.S. magazines such as Southern
Living. (Note: If you pay $5.00 for the Schreiner's catalog that
automatically takes you out of the "regular gardener" category.)  In fact I
had no concept of how many iris suppliers existed until I joined AIS and saw
all of the listings in the back of the bulletin.  Nor was I aware of the
variety of irises, bearded and beardless, available, when I was a "regular
gardener".  Since joining AIS, in fact, I have become a very irregular
gardener who is obsessed with growing all sorts of irises. :)  

I know this is blasphemy for an AIS member to say, but I wouldn't worry so
much about what the general public thinks, since I don't think that the
majority are looking at AIS award designations or most of the catalogs in
the back of the AIS bulletin when purchasing irises.  When I was a regular
gardener I never heard another one say, "Darn those misleading AIS awards,
this iris was a dud and the AIS is to blame!"  The general public has to be
aware of AIS and it's awards before it can appreciate them or use them in
making purchasing decisions.  I think education of the general public about
irises as garden plants should be a focus before emphasis of AIS awards.

Having explained my impression of how irises get into the hands of the
general public, I think, at least in my mind, there is a big disconnect
somewhere between the irises that AIS awards and what makes it into the
hands of the "regular gardener".  So I'm not convinced that the award system
needs drastic overhaul based on worry about what the general public thinks
(maybe there are better reasons). It's my experience that with other popular
garden perennials, only a few ever make it to stardom and become the types
most often seen in the average home garden.  Annual's are a little
different, but only because they cycle through the market much faster.  I
don't think that too many plant societies are successful in affecting
marketing of what they consider "the best" to the general public.  

IMHO, AIS awards can't be held responsible for getting good irises into the
hands of the general public, but people can.  I take an active role in
educating  other gardeners about the virtues of all types of irises as
garden plants and I also share as many plants of my own irises as is
possible so that other gardeners can experience an iris that they can't
purchase at Wal-Mart or the local garden center.  In fact, I'm packing up
iris rhizomes tonight for a plant exchange with someone that contacted me
through e-mail as a result of an iris related message that I posted on an
interactive web page called The Garden Exchange :

-Donald Mosser

Donald Mosser
North Augusta, South Carolina, USA
On the South Carolina and Georgia Border
Zone 7b-8
First avg. frost date approx. Nov.15th
Last avg. frost date approx. March 15th

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