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
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
Neil Mogensen z 7 western
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