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CULT: The good, the bad and the truly awful (long, long)

From: "Donald Eaves" <donald@eastland.net>

Hello Folks,

Well, since fall is now settling in and the growing season is
drawing to a close here in my part of Zone 7 Texas, I did an
assessment of the season:

The good:
    A respectable spring bloom on the irises, topped by the
performance of LEMON CHESS (Moores '96 TB), VOLTAGE
(Messick '93 TB), TRAITOR (Jameson '94 TB) and JEWEL OF
OMAR (Boswell '86 AB MED).  I'm curious to find out if they are
able to repeat the performance again.

    Good increase on most new acquisitions from last year and
from this fall.  Plus improved growth this fall on some which suffered
greatly during the summer's heat and really hadn't done well since
planting last fall, e.g. NORDICA (Maryott '92 TB) and SPANISH
FIREBALL (Jone, B. '95 TB).  It will be interesting to see if they
manage to bloom next spring.

    A generous offer from Pat in Dallas to loan me a black velvet
gown so I have something to wear to Dallas and won't have to
miss the convention due a dearth of such attire in my closet.  There
is just no underestimating the generosity of sharing by iris folks.
How many have been equally as generous sharing their extra
rhizomes?  Several have with me.  And now a gown!

    All the arilbreds which survived to the post-bloom stage in the spring
have returned this fall.  No loss!  This is not to say they all returned
equally.  Unfortunately, these have been more of a challenge than
the TBs.  But those that have died have died early, and I'm tickled
to see new growth where there was no sign of life in the summer's
heat, many having gone totally dormant.

    The LAs.  To a one they are proving tough.  In spite of surely needing
more H2O than they receive.  At least they hang in there.  I'm surprised,
and very pleased.

    All those seeds in the freezer from my first attempts at pollen-daubing.
Or maybe that's bad.  I have a suspicion this is going to be a lot of work.
Work is a four letter word for a lazy person.  'Course lazy is too if you're
one of those energetic souls rushing around like a battery ad.  I'm not, so
this may turn out to be truly awful.  Maybe even the results when they
begin blooming in a couple of years.  And after all that work, too.  Maybe
I'll just use the toilet for something besides soaking the seeds.  Maybe

The bad:
    The medians.  To a one they have not done well.  Even CHIMERA
(Zurbrigg '61 IB) which worked so hard at producing blooms and increase
last spring and seemed to hold up so well in the heat compared to
many (including many TBs), developed rot when I finally gave them
some water this fall.  And this was/is still the median which held up
the best under my conditions.  I'm still trying, tho.

    The rebloomers.  Well, maybe I'm rushing them, but this was to be
the first fall wherein I was to see rebloom from my own garden rather
than the point-of-purchase.  One scraggly bloom on ROYAL SUMMER
(Applegate '70 TB), two bloom stalks on BELVI QUEEN (Jensen '76 TB)
chomped off by deer, now three fat stalks on GOLD REPRISE (Moores
'88 TB) and stalks just now emerging on AUTUMN ECHO (Gibson '75
TB), EGGNOG (Byers '90 TB) and LATEST STYLE (Zurbrigg '79 TB).
The last three will certainly get taken out by a freeze and GOLD REPRISE
probably will as well provided the deer don't find it first.  I'm not at all
sure I have the constitution (or the $ for our expensive water) to watch
all those missed blooms.  Maybe spring will renew the hopes.

The truly awful:
    Our continuing drought.  It is really bad here in my area.  Water
supplies for many cattleman have completely dried up, forcing them to
sell, relocate their animals, or use expensive bought water.  Native
vegetation which should be there is non-existent and there is no
fall forage, since there has not been enough rainfall to sustain any
germination.  A bleak picture for the coming winter.  And those of
us with mouths on four legs to feed are looking a high dollar feed
bill for what we can manage to keep.

    Rot in the irises this fall.  Never has happened to me before on any
rhizome except new acquisitions.  But besides the above mentioned
CHIMERA, it occurred in FRUIT OF MAROON (Ernst '96 TB) and
CINNAMON FRINGE (Cross '94 TB).  FOM was a total loss, there
having been no increase since planting a year ago.  The others will
make it (I think).  I sure have limited experience in this area and the
info from this list has been helpful.  I suppose if you grow enough
rhizomes, sooner or later conditions will be present which allow
some unpleasant experiences.  I guess only three cases out of
three or four hundred rhizomes isn't a bad percentage, but I sure
didn't like it.  (Sort of like when I don't like it when a new one doesn't
make it - cause I sure don't like that either.)

    The mere thought of an Ichabod Crane clone in a black velvet
evening gown at the convention.  It's enough to set the iris world back
a few years.  Maybe even a few centuries.  I doubt all the altering in
the world would manage to improve that particular image.  Besides,
you're not supposed to alter borrowed goods, are you?  At least I
don't like it when I loan out my lawn mower and it is returned with
modifications.  Maybe not exactly a good analogy, but the altered
lawnmower would still be prettier than the above.  I'm worried too if
this gown is PC according to Sharon's post?

    The damage this fall from the deer.  I'm blaming it on the drought.
Usually I don't have a problem with them munching on irises, but
there's not much else green around here except what grows in the
yard.  Their special favorite has been GLACIER POINT (Tasco '98 TB).
They never pass the chance of a nibble on that one.  The result is
it's staying about a quarter inch in height.  They also like another
of Tasco's intros nearly as well.  MARIPOSA AUTUMN '99 TB gets
a munching about every other night, but there are many which don't
fare much better.  But they don't pick on all.  LEMON CHESS
grows next door to GP, as does VOLTAGE and neither has suffered
a bite.  The arilbreds haven't been munched as badly as the TBs,
but that may be because they are smaller snacks to begin with.  Also,
the spurias are hit and miss in the dinner department, but the LAs
are apparently a dietary staple this fall.  I was hoping that the beginning
of deer season would make their visits scarce, but so far it looks as
if hunger rules.

    The grasshopper damage this year.  Take something out of the pot
this fall and watch it disappear!  Ate the rhizome and all on I. jordana.
These insects are always worse in dry years.  No fungus maybe.  Or
maybe the greenest pasture is still my yard.  Aaaaargh!

    The armadillo damage.  I usually manage to undo this early in the
day.  But a little over two weeks vacation and the resulting damage is
more severe.  Trying to salvage an extremely heat stressed NOTORIOUS
(Ghio '91 TB) only to find that after all the babying in a pot and planting
in new and improved soil resulted in apparently instant uprooting the
minute I left the country.  Probably a goner.  Oh well, it should have
done better.  What a wimpy way for an iris to grow, anyway.

    TYKE (Warburton '86 MTB).  I've wasted a lot time from the beginning
coaxing this median along.  Finally got increases and had it looking
pretty good until our summer set int.  Potted it, moved it to the shade,
a close eye on it.  It shriveled and died.  Pfui!

    For the above, see BATIK (Ensminger '86 BB).  Well, I finally planted
it in a shadier spot and it still wouldn't grow.  The armadillos dug it up
and exposed the rhizomes.  Not a single new root on four rhizomes.  O.K.
Back to the pot, but this time the rhizomes were dipped in rooting powder.
Seems to be working.  There are now new green leaves emerging.  Does
this help?  Anyone tried rooting powder on recalcitrant rhizomes?  Whatever,
this one had better like it's new spot, because it's not going to get all
TLC every year.  Too bad, because it's a distinctive iris and very popular
with the visitors to the garden.

 If you've reached this far, you need to take two aspirins and go to be
Otherwise you may have nightmares.  Such ravings cause that, I hear.

Donald Eaves
Texas Zone

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