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[iris-talk] Re: Arkansas State Capitol beds, part 2

From: celia storey <storey@aristotle.net>

To answer Patrick's history question, here are excerpts from a flyer we
used at the re-dedication of the CAIS beds in April. Dick Butler gave our
invocation and many old members were honored, including Henry and Frances
Rowlan and Richard Morgan, who could not attend.

"The glorious collection of bearded and spuria irises we see today
was first planted by a young, spunky Central Arkansas Iris Society
in the summer of 1969. CAIS was 10 years old that summer, and as the
only American Iris Society affiliate in Arkansas, its members included the
state's most important irisarians and some of its most prominent citizens.

"CAIS founder and then-President Oren Campbell led the Capitol Planting
project along with hybridizer Richard Morgan. With then-Secretary of State
Kelly Bryant, an active member of CAIS, they signed an agreement allowing
the society to cultivate four beds on the south lawn of the Capitol. That
reads, in part, 'The iris in the plantings at the State Capitol, Little
Rock, Arkansas,
are the sole property of the Central Arkansas Iris Society. The CAIS is
responsible for
the management of said beds and may remove any surplus, or replace any of
the existing
iris with newer or better iris. The CAIS agrees to keep the plantings in
good condition at
all times by proper cultivation, fertilizing and grooming.'

"Our familiar concrete retainers occupy part of the site of the old beds,
which were lined
by low hedges and separated from the lawn by concrete edging blocks. The
hedges were
removed in 1980. When the grounds were redesigned in the 1990s two beds
were dispensed
with, but these that remain were widened to accommodate more plants.

"The original planting in 1969 included 300 cultivars donated by members
and iris nurseries. Newer cultivars were substituted in October 1970. Among
the more than $1000 worth of irises replanted in the beds that month were
75 cultivars donated by Jim and Melba Hamblen of Mission Bells Iris
Gardens. The grateful society awarded the Hamblens honorary memberships.

"In April 1970, the irises bloomed for the first time. To celebrate, Mr.
Bryant declared April 27-May 2 'Iris Week at the Capitol.' Events, covered
by local TV news, included the club's annual garden tour. As tour chairman,
Mrs. Vera Ray welcomed 82 members onto the chartered buses, which visited
ten sites. The worldwide oil crisis still five years away, a $3.50 tour fee
covered transportation and lunch. After the tour, Mr. Bryant presided over
a dedication ceremony for the planting and for the nearby Eternal Flame.
Our own Richard C. Butler Sr. gave the dedicatory address. Mr. Butler was
then president of Commercial National Bank in Little Rock."

The spurias mentioned above were inadvertantly left out of the beds when
"we" replanted this summer while mom and I took our carefully timed
vacation out of state. (We had custody of the spurias.) They will be
installed in a new planting around the garden clubs cottage where our club
meets (or heads will roll! :-))

Little Rock, Arkansas, USDA Zone 7b
257 feet above sea level,
average rainfall about 50 inches (more than 60" in '97)
average relative humidity (at 6 a.m.) 84%.
moderate winters, hot summers ... but lots of seesaw action in all seasons

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