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Re: esthetics (was Re: Double iris-a plea for circumspection)

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: esthetics (was Re: Double iris-a plea for circumspection)
  • From: John Montgomery <monashee@bcgrizzly.com>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 02:04:18 -0600 (MDT)

I guess that since I seem to have provoked this discussion, I should stick
my oar in the water again. Actually Walter and I were having private
discussions for a couple of days and then I got rather wrapped up in work.
We didn't agree on everything but Walter is very polite and tolerant.

Probably I am needlessly paranoid but my reasons are more or less the
following. I will start with the admission that the lily is my favorite
flower but irises are a close second. Currently there is a lot of heavy
duty hybridizing underway with the aim of producing double lilies. This is
not amateurs in their gardens but large corporations in Holland and the US.
The color catalogs are devoting increasing space each year to doubles and I
think it likely this will increase. Here is where I have a problem. If we
speak out against this trend we are correctly labelled as trying to
influence other ppeoples tastes. Indeed we are, but it seems trivial,
perhaps futile when the commercial interests engage their hired guns from
Madison Ave. to do their job which is specifically to mess with peoples
'taste'. 

Because the Iris does not have the curse of a cut flower industry such as
exists for lilies, there may well be little commercial pressure to head off
into these - to me - disagreeable avenues. I do not hybridize irises but I
do hybridize lilies so I am certainly not advocating some kind of
censorship of what hybridizers do. On the other hand I find it difficult to
see why it is acceptable to have only one side of the story pushed upon us.
I apologize for the vehement style of my argument but not for its thesis.
Walter didn't like my use of the word crud and he was right ( I have
alreaddy said that he is very polite ).

I have a lot of dislikes but I tolerate most of them. I am not fond of some
of the very ruffled forms and streaky colors do not agree withme very well
but I can go along with things like that and grow them myself and perhaps
even come to like them but they do not fundamentally change the flower
(long live Brad Kasparek). It is still recognizable as an iris. It reallly
is only the thought of doubles which makes me gird my loins for battle. I
have this niggling feeling that if someone were to find a way to breed
two-headed dogs, that we would find lots of people parading them through
the park. I suppose that in my mind I have some informal golden rule of
what a great iris should be. The difficulty lies more in articulating that
rule than it is to define it by exclusion. The problem with this I guess is
that my protests become equivalent to the negative advertising which our
politicians have found so useful. Perhaps it is incumbent on those of us
with this dislike for doubles to write articles for magazines and garden
columns extolling our view of perfection. 

By the way, what I least like about the Space Agers is the name. But then
here, most of the exaggerated appendages seem to be quite minimal. They are
okay.

Back to hybridizing. I have had double lilies appear including one with 12
rather perfect tepals which did not form from the stamens. It was quite
pretty really but to my eye it wasn't a lily and I composted it and now its
molecules are nourishing the real thing. I am totally unrepentant about
that and will do it again the next time. How about if I forswear the word
'crud' if nobody admonishes me for throwing out the freaks :-). 

I have recently registered a lily which has been growing here for about 8
years. I have never liked it much but many visitors have badgered me to
sell it to them. My daughter-in-law selected it as her favorite out of
hundreds then in bloom and that made me take a second look. I looked at its
health and it got high marks. the bulbs were about the nicest that I have
seen. It has good form for an upfacing flower. When it came right down to
it, I guess it was primarily the color which didn't appeal to me and that
suddenly seemed silly when most others were fond of it. It will be
introduced next year and I think it may be around for awhile but I also
think that I will never like it a great deal except that it shows some
promise of being a good parent.

It is all a great deal of fun but if I ever come up with the 6' outfacing
fire engine red that I am looking for and it has extra tepals I shall beam
it into the compost pile.

My intention here on starting was to make a wise and thoughtful response to
the question posed by Tom. I never got there and this is already far too
long. Perhaps next time.

Cheers and the best of good wishes to all hybridizers who strive for simple
elegance on sturdy plants.

John Montgomery
monashee@bcgrizzly.com





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