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[iris-talk] Re: Iris Beds at Arkansas State Capitol

From: celia storey <storey@aristotle.net>

>From: "Patrick O'Connor" <swamp@ix.netcom.com>

>I did notice, by the way, that there were no Louisianas in the capitol
>beds.   Any particular reason you did not add any healthy specimens to
>replace the sickies from the past?  And, did you consider displaying irises
>native to Arkansas....fulva, cristata, brevicaulis (?), others?

Yes, experience.

It is unwise to attempt to grow water irises in conditions suitable to TBs.
They do not mix. We tried that, and if you'll remember my description of
the third-year LA rhizomes we pulled from the bed, you'll understand why we
will not be doing it again. Brevicaulis might survive the summer droughts
by going dormant, but do we really want to be modeling bad cultural
practices in a display bed? Drainage in those beds is not what you call
sharp, but it's not bad enough to make a good habitat for fulva. Not by a
mile. And it turns into the Sahara in summer. And we cannot ask the Capitol
to water one section of the beds twice a week for us in the middle of
August. The Capitol does not hand-water, it turns on sprinklers. And we
will not find volunteers willing to drag a 50-foot hose over there twice a
week to hand-water plants we've forced into the wrong environment.

I can't speak for the committee because I'm just one captain, but I would
oppose any attempt to return LAs to those beds ... because I love LAs. (I
dug out those dying LAs last year. I saw what we did to them.) We maintain
a lively but these days friendly debate in our club about emphasis on
bearded or beardless irises in one or another club activity. For the
record, so my common sense will not be mistaken for taste, I prefer species
plants because they have Latin names I feel intelligent saying. :-)

*We want to make an LA and native species display.*

What is needed for a public planting of water irises is a watery place with
some protective shade in the afternoon.
Tom Dillard tried to set up an LA display around the lake at The Old Mill
(pictured in "Gone With the Wind") this summer. Although North Little Rock
officials were receptive, the immediate supervisors of the park would not
return phone calls.
I would like to see us exploit the pretty drainage ditch along the bike
trail in Murray Park. That area gets as much foot traffic as the south lawn
of the Capitol; drivers could admire the plants from the road, the ditch
stays wet because it's fed by a creek and it's a public place.

As for cristata, we could try some on the end of the Capitol bed that gets
the most shade, but again, do we want to send a message that you should
plant a woodland plant next to a plant that prefers full sun? The TBs on
that end bloom profusely, so they're getting full sun.
And besides, if local people want to see cristata, there's a sizable
planting in the woods at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. That's a lovely
setting for them.

We've also found a large planting of fulvas near Pinnacle, but it is on
private land.

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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