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Re: Survivors and hybridizers

  • Subject: [iris-photos] Re: Survivors and hybridizers
  • From: "Neil A Mogensen" neilm@charter.net
  • Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 20:17:22 -0500

The comments from Robert Pries reminded me that one valid and effective "experiment" is to take note of what old, abandoned irises from gardens planted long ago continue to thrive and bloom.
When we moved onto this place the grounds had gone wild with neglect.  I found irises planted in a number of places, and, as I reworked the areas I salvaged pieces of each plant I found just to see if I recognized an old friend.  In several cases I did.  From what neighbors have told me, these irises were planted in the 1950's.
BLUE RHYTHM is still growing in a huge, abandoned clump near the entrance to one of my step-son's rental units.  Not only does it not succumb to borer, it also does not show signs of soft rot.
Another "found" iris is WABASH.  It survives, but does not thrive like Blue Rhythm, but I see it blooming in many yards in the area.  BLUE SHIMMER was one I was delighted to find.  Even though by today's standards it has very thin substance and not at all satisfactory form, in its own day it was a stellar example of the advances then being made in the midwestern garden of the Sass family.
There have been a few others here I have never identified, nor particularly care to in one case.  But one diploid that is a consistant, happy camper in a mixed perennial bed is one I wish I knew by name.  Resembling PERFECTION somewhat, it has more yellow in the heart of the flower and somewhat yellower foliage.
None of these have ever shown the slightest problem in growth.  I think that says there are varieties that have the genetics to survive and thrive even in these difficult "Humid Continental" climates subject to abrupt temperature changes and intense summer heat and humidity.
Considering the difficult conditions last March through the end of July when we had more than eight inches of rain per month, I found my modern irises growing with a *northern* slope esposure faring much better than those on south slopes.  They were two weeks later to bloom than those planted on the earlier, quick to warm up, south sloping area and much less damaged by the spring frosts and abrupt changes from too warm to too cold. 
This has caused me to wonder if much of what is often ascribed to summer issues and hereditary weaknesses may have been initiated by stressors early in the spring.  I had Keppel, Blyth, Maryott, Sutton and Ghio varieties in that north-sloping garden that looked quite healthy the entire year.  There had been a moderate amount of spring and winter blossom loss, as there always is with new-set plants wherever I have grown them, but very little soft rot and only one loss out of nearly a hundred plants.  I will be interested to see what two-year clumps look like this coming spring.
Neil Mogensen   z 7 western NC

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