JI Symposium - Stop burning the red-heads.
Kathy is to be congratulated on the very well organized JI symposium
which was both enjoyable and educational but, may be a little short.
Another day of discussion would have been better.
I am facinated, as I am sure Dennis Hager will be, by her remarks that
we are "about 100 years younger than I expected". I just wonder what
she had as an image! When a full professor (at 32), I was turned down
for entry into the library stacks at the university on the grounds that
I was an undergraduate and not allowed into that section! Since that
time, my efforts have focused on gaining that little bit of grey hair
above the ears which seems to impress women so much. It would have
given me that air of maturity which has been so lacking in my
behaviour. Unfortunately, it has failed to develop (may be I am a
double recessive) but I still hope. Attending judges training may well
bring it on as I find the whole experience so frustrating.
I certainly have no desire to be a judge but I do wish to understand
just how to "see" irises accurately. For this reason, I have attended
one training session in North Carolina and the first part of John
Coble's one in Burlington. After N.C., I concluded that the system
lacked intellectual structure and that there were few standards by which
to judge a flower. There is a a wide latitude given to personal opinion
and this was confirmed by John Coble when he said that any three judges
might select winners at a show but that another three judges at the same
show might select entirely different winners. This is like
international ice dancing where the dancers know their final rank before
they go on the ice (bribery plays a large part) and the only issue is
whether they fall during their performances.
At Burlington, we saw JI photos of what I can only call "unmade bed
irises". No formal structure, no symmetry, just a mass of petals and
deformed standards, etc. What are the rules to judge such a mess?
John raised a more disturbing issue. He said that some JI plants can
produce two distinct forms of flower from the same plant. One is
exactly as defined in the registration and the other is a colour sport
that can be very different. He said that a judge should know this and
reject the sport as it is unacceptable. I had to leave for the airport
at this point - which may have been a good thing! If that flower is
perfect in every way except that it does not have the colour or colour
pattern described in the registration, why would it be rejected? The
only analogy that I could think of is the old tradition of burning
red-headed women because they were different! I am all for keeping the
red-heads as they are noted for adding spice to life and I would suggest
the judging should keep the JI sport. Rather than reject this flower, a
good judge should know that this can happen in certain cultivars and
judge it as it is. It is from the same plant and genetically identical
(although biochemically it is obviously different). Thus, the problem
is with the judging or the registration not the flower itself. Let us
accept the facts and change the judging and registration description to
be more accurate and scientific.
The Symposium was well worth the effort to attend. Again,
congratulations to Kathy and here helpers. As to whether Kathy met with
my expectation, that would require another long e-mail which would have
to be prepared in cooperation with Dennis Hager!
Ian, in Ottawa where we might have our first frost tonight.