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From: "Carryl M. Meyer" <carrylm@bigsky.net>

During the AIS Annual meeting in Atlanta--several years ago, I became aware
of Spurias as a variety of Iris--I had seen them before, but did not realize
that they were not just 'big Siberians'; we were visiting a garden south of
Atlanta, and here was this tall plant, large flower coming up out of the
middle of a garden bed of mixed flowers--there we stood--nose to nose--and
all I could focus on was this great, deep yellow flower--about 6" or
more--from petal to petal--I fell in love!!
About the closest person to me when I saw this 'great flower' was Dave
Niswonger--he identified what it was--probably a 'no-name specie' and said
that if I was interested in growing some, he had some he thought would
survive in my colder weather-- He sent me a catalogue, and I started with
6--all his own hybrids--he said to plant them deeper than bearded Iris, and
mulch them the first winter--which I did--they are all still growing and
doing well--and many have been added to their area since then--
Sometime, at another AIS Annual Meeting, there was a group of
Hybridizers--talking on the bus--about how to take care of Iris which arrive
too late in  the fall to be planted--pot them? Mulch them?--And Dave N. told
about the time someone had sent him some very rare Iris--too late to
plant--so he dug up a space, put the rhizomes in neat rows--with their name
tags, mulched then heavily with straw--put wire on top so the wind would not
blow the straw away--and was sure that he had done the right way to have
them survive the winter--
When he removed the wire and straw in the spring--what he had there was
little furrows from the mice running back and forth, little piles of
labels--where the mice had pushed them around--and most of his rhizomes had
been eaten by the mice!!
And the mice never did say 'thank-you' for providing them with room and
board for the winter--several of the other persons present told tales of
almost the same having happened to them--so if you have very many mice--that
is not a good way to take care of rhizomes for the winter--
Last Spring, Tom Abrego of Chehelan Gardens in Oregon, came to Montana and
did judges training on Spurias--and one point he emphasized was--if you want
them to bloom every year, they must have a period of dormancy--so--after the
flowers are gone, really cut back on the amount of water you give them--most
gardeners plant Spurias with their other Iris, and this should not be done,
as they need their dormancy period--if you give them too much water, they
will survive, but not too well--will not increase nor flower well--
At the present time, I have over a dozen named Spuria and several
specie--but all have come from cold weather areas--Bobbi Shepard and I have
discussed the idea that cold weather areas should get their Spurias from
cold weather area growers--and I have tried several different ones from
her--and if out winter is cold with not much snow cover--they will
freeze--and since frozen rhizomes do not do well with growing and
flowering--I have quit trying these 'warm area' rhizomes--and only purchase
cold area rhizomes--
Many cold areas have deep snow cover--which helps insulate the rhizomes from
the cold--so a grower might be Zone 3, like I am, but be able to have many
more plants survive their winter than I have--
As for ants--they love Spurias!!! When I pick flowers --I put them in a
bucket of water-outside-pour a little oil on the top of the water--and let
the flowers sit there for most the day--as the ants come back down the
stem--heading for home--they fall into the oily water--and drown!!  When
ready to take the flowers into the house, I
remove the stems from the oily water--wipe off the oil and recut the
stems--and do not have problems with ants in the house--
Don't remember where I learned to treat flowers which ants like this
way--but for me--it works--just do not pour the water with the oil onto the
humus pile--not good for it--
As with many varieties of Iris--they can probably be grown in some areas
where they have not been tried before--so if you purchase only a few ( who
can purchase a few of any variety of Iris?) from a garden with growing
conditions similar to your own, and follow the recommendations for growing
them,  you might have good luck--and have another variety of Iris to add to
your garden list--
Carryl in western Montana-- zone 3/4 where it is sunny and cold today with
the mountains all around covered with a dusting of new snow-

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