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   Article (For index of many other articles follow the link above)
 

 

Iris Humor Area... 
collected by Christopher Hollinshead 
Click on the link of your choice below to go directly to that item. 

1. Some Iris-world Personalities 
2. The Era of Iris Hybridizing Comes to a Close 


Some Iris-world Personalities 
by Hortus Veritas 

The following are some observations on some famous personalities in the world of irises. Old-timers are sure to recognize some, if not all of these beloved eccentrics. These people do not often see their names in print, or their virtues sufficiently praised. So, here are some of my favorite "friends".  


Mrs. T.B. Only - In the eyes of Mrs. T.B. Only, there is only one type of iris... tall beardeds! She is of course a garden judge. She doesn’t grow anything but tall beardeds and doesn’t read anything about other types of irises and has never voted to give an iris an award if it failed to be a tall bearded. Mrs. Only once had a nervous breakdown at an iris show she was judging with two other judges. Outvoted, she could not endure the tragedy when a standard dwarf bearded iris was chosen as Queen of the Show. She has never fully recovered from the pain of this event. Mrs. Only hates rebloomers and space age irises. She considers both these types of iris to be "against nature". She refers to Japanese irises as "those freaks" and calls Siberians "those dinky wild things". Some years ago when BROWN LASSO, a Border Bearded iris won the Dykes Medal, Mrs. Only wrote a letter of resignation to the iris society. Upon second thought, however, she tore up the letter instead of mailing it. No, she felt herself duty bound to stay in there and maintain the standards of the organization. And that she does. In any group of people with whom Mrs.T.B. Only associates, it is likely that similar views will prevail. After all, Mrs. Only will not associate with anyone who disagrees with her views, which she received through divine revelation. 


Mr. Hi Quality - Mr. Hi Quality only grows 20 iris cultivars, and they are always the newest, most expensive and of course the highest quality. No inferior iris would ever be allowed in Hi’s garden. How sad, Hi believes, that others grow such old inferior things. If you tell Hi that you like a particular pink iris, be prepared for him to tell you all its many faults (unless it is the pink one that he is currently growing) For Hi, there are only three hybridizers whose iris are worthy of growing. He would not even consider growing an iris by some other hybridizer. Hi is also a judge. He does not believe in giving firsts to irises that are not in his view, the best. Thus a perfect specimen of last years Dykes winner, which Hi did not vote for or approve, will never get a first if Hi can prevent it. Hi has never grown VANITY. As Hi will be quick to tell you, "That iris will never get within ten miles of my garden". 


Mr. I.V. Gotyou - Hi there everyone, I'm a new hybridizer. I joined the AIS at the local mall last year when there was an iris show and I really like iris. I planted some seeds from a pod last year that my Aunt Bee sent me. Well they all have come up and I've got names all picked out for them. Isn't that great! They all flowered except one and they are excellent irises I'm sure. I mean my whole family came over to see them and they told me so. They can't be wrong can they? Anyway I sent in to the AIS for their papers and can hardly wait until they are registered. They are all siblings, seven of them, How tall do iris have to be? Can't wait until next year when I'll have even more seeds to plant and introduce. 
Description: Flowers are huge, standards wide open, falls point down, standards and falls are both the exciting colour of tea-bag brown, infused with streaks of yellow. Nothing else like it. Truly unique. (Unknown x Unknown) Anyway, buy one and I'll send the other six to you as a bonus! You'll be sure to buy some from me won't you? Quantities are limited. $50.00 US funds. 
Mail to: Mr. I.V. Gotyou c/o Grand Cayman Island Cayman Islands 


Miss Phulla Woe - Phulla Woe is destined to failure. Her trials and tribulations know no end. They are of monumental proportions. No one has ever had such infestations of iris borer (and she has them every year!) And the iris borers who come to Miss Woe’s garden are not of the ordinary size or typical constitution. They are so large that they could easily be mistaken for boa constrictors. They drink Cygon cocktails for breakfast and only grow larger. Although Phulla Woe lives on the east coast where scorch is virtually unheard of, her garden is periodically beset by this ravenous disease. Every year’s bloom is worse than last year’s. Rot is always rampant in her irises. It is a special type of rot that has escaped from the iris beds and attacked her old oak trees. Fungi and blights peculiar to Central Asia have somehow made it into Phulla’s garden. There are of course, no cures for these rare diseases. When one visits Miss Woe’s garden it is always immaculately maintained. Her irises are always grown to perfection. No one has ever seen a trace of rust on a leaf or a hole in a rhizome. A sickly plant? Not likely. Every year Phulla Woe wins the Sweepstakes Award at the local show and her den is wallpapered with Best Specimen rosettes. Obviously, her iris diseases and pests are invisible... which makes them even more difficult to combat. Alas, next year is sure to be even worse. 


Mr. A. Chievement - Mr. A. Chievement has been breeding and introducing irises for a number of years. He introduces lots of irises. And he has never introduced one that was short of being the best in its color class or a break of great significance. A typical description of one of Mr. A. Chievement’s irises taken from his catalogue; WHITE RAINBOW RIBBONS (Chievement 1994) Tall Bearded, gorgeous, heavily ruffled, unique in new shades of white with highlights of blue, red, purple, cranberry, apricot, primrose and orange. Heavy wax-like substance and magnificent classic branching. There are 15 to 18 buds per stalk. Incredible vigor and rapid increase. Perfect in clump and show bench. Multicolored haft markings are distinctive and add to the overall effect of this outstanding color break. This is the best of the whites. (unnamed seedling x sibling) $40.00 Alas, those of us who bought Mr. Chievement’s last introduction which was also advertised as best of the whites (an iris called ALMOST VIRGINAL) are now behind the times. ALMOST VIRGINAL is now passé. Of course, it never bloomed for me in the two years that I grew it. Did not increase. Was beset with rot. And has long since disappeared from my garden. Yes, A. Chievement will be sure to introduce another best of the whites next year... and a best of the yellows, best of the reds, etc.. These irises will not win any awards from the AIS because as Mr. Chievement explains, "the judges don’t like me". He is actually quite a pleasant fellow. 


This above material originally appeared in Newscast, the AIS region four newsletter. Also it has appeared in the quarterly CIS Newsletter as a series running in the January 1996 and April 1996 issues. 


The Era of Iris Hybridizing Comes to a Close 
by Hortus Veritas 

Our good friend Hortus Veritas speaks again... what a knowledgeable and open-minded optimistic source of facts...

As the 21st century approaches, the age of great advances in iris hybridizing comes to a close.  Iris breeders have done just about  all there is to be done.  In the future, new introductions are likely to be only minor variations on cultivars already on the market. 

Those of us who have had great joy in witnessing the creation of brown, pink, orange and large-flowered plicata tall bearded irises; seeing Louisiana irises with bright colors and ruffled flowers emerge from species growing along the bayou; and living at the time I. pumila was used to create modern dwarfs of extraordinary characteristics, must be saddened.  There just aren't any areas of iris breeding left for young people (or not so young people) to work in any more. 

I have heard some people say that cold climate reblooming bearded irises comprise opportunities for people starting out to breed irises. 

 Really!  We already have a lot of nice rebloomers.  Just because we don't have a good brown, or a good red, or a dependable orange rebloomer surely does not mean there is much to do. These missing components from the cold climate rebloomer array will almost certainly be created in the next year or two.  And just because there are many beautiful once blooming irises that are nowhere to be found duplicated among the rebloomers does not mean we need them! It has been suggested that some lines of tall bearded irises seem susceptible to rot in areas with wet climates, such as the eastern portion of the U.S. This might suggest there are breeding improvements to be sought. In modern teenager language, my response to this is: "I don't think so." 

By replacing one's soil with a few tons of sandy loam with lots of grit, using cloches or glass cold frames, and careful fertilizing and watering, the so-called tender lines of bearded irises can thrive in wet climates. And of course there is nothing to prevent anyone from moving to the sunnier areas of California. So why bother improving these lines to produce similar irises which will be less susceptible to rot? 
People who have seen modern spuria irises growing at their best in areas such as California, and who know that most of these irises will not grow so well in the eastern and southern U.S., have hinted that spuria irises offer hybridizers challenging opportunities.  They have pointed out that many spuria species such as I. carthaliniae and I. musulmanica, and species hybrids like the cultivar BELIZE, do wonderfully in the Eastern U.S. 

One might ask: "Wouldn't it be worthwhile to develop strains of spuria hybrids that grow and bloom vigorously in the East?"  Surely trying to do this would be going against Nature! Anyone who has confronted Nature face to face knows you don't want to get into a fight with Nature. 

Iris authorities familiar with Japanese irises like to boast that all the many forms and colors of that type of iris come from a single species, i.e. Iris ensata.  By collecting from the wild as many  different forms as could be found, and then breeding these various forms to get extremely large flowers of many different color patterns, the modern Japanese irises were made possible. 

Some Japanese iris breeders seem to think that dwarf plants with all their parts in proportion would be nice - but would they? 

Some people tend to think that it would be nice to develop cultivars which are more lime tolerant or have a wider spectrum of colors. 

Do these objectives make sense to you? Get serious! 

Pointing out that Japanese irises all arise from Iris ensata, some people have hinted that one might collect various forms of other species and breed them toward achieving bigger flowers, clearer colors, differently formed flowers, dwarf plants, and more patterns.  They cite such species as 
I. veriscolor, virginica, setosa, prismatica, cristata, tectorum, laevigata, and missouriensis as good candidates for such hybridizing efforts.  I am not even going to comment on such ideas except to say: "Some people just don't seem to have common sense." 

There are people who think that miniature tall bearded irises could be improved.  They seem to think that all the clear colors and various flower forms now represented among tall bearded cultivars could be produced in miniature tall bearded lines  Some of these same people think it might be possible to develop better border bearded cultivars that grow in class. They even opine that strains of miniature dwarf bearded irises that do well in the southern part of the U.S. might be achieved.  In every field of endeavor there are unrealistic dreamers.  Do these people really think that working on such goals would be worth the effort? 

And who in the world really needs better branching? 

Or higher bud count? Or irises that hold up better in wind and rain? 
Or dwarf Siberians? Or aril, arilbred, and Pacific Coast Native irises that are more adaptable to a diversity of climates and soils?  Who, indeed! 

"No!" I say.  The era of great iris breeding achievements is entering its twilight time.  We will all be better off when we recognize there is little to be done in the future.  I, for one, would rather spend 
my time more productively building cold frames in which to grow tender tall bearded irises. And unlike some lazy people, I enjoy staking the many modern tall bearded cultivars that fall over in the slightest breeze. 
Just because breeding irises is a really fun thing to do does not justify fighting Nature.  There are no more worthy goals to be sought.  Don't waste your time. 


And that's all for now, folks...