Friday, May 23, 2014

SDB 'Bumpkin' by Marky Smith 2012

This spectacular flower opened yesterday in my garden. A purchase from our club sale last year, it has three good increases and one bloom stalk with three buds.  What a beauty!   (Betty Schnellinger)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ear to the Ground

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Happy Good Friday! A short one this week.
  • This looks like a great show at the NYBG: Weird, Wild, and Wonderful—"In homage to the beauty of the botanical world's most bizarre flora, the Garden invited members of the American Society of Botanical Artists to participate in a study of the eccentric, creating works of art based on visually unusual plants chosen by the artists themselves. View the results of their efforts—46 captivating paintings and illustrations of exotic specimens—on display in the Ross Gallery." In addition, the evening of May 29 will feature personal appearances by Elizabeth Gilbert and Amy Stewart for An Evening of Women, Art & Botany.
  • Our friends at Twin Oaks Landscaping just won a NYSNLA Environmental Beautification Award! See why. Did you win one too? Let me know!
Image courtesy Mikell Herrick
Suntory's 'Senetti Blue Eye' pericallis
That's all for this week! Have a wonderful Easter weekend, if you celebrate, and if you don't, have a wonderful weekend anyway.


Friday, April 18, 2014

HIPS: The Historical Iris Preservation Society

A Request from the Historical Iris Preservation Society

The HIPS database is currently being rebuilt without the benefit of the majority of the previous files, as we've not been able to salvage more than 2 dozen member lists. Even if you have sent your list of historic varieties from your garden before, please do so again.

simple list of just the names of the historics you grow is the easiest to add to the spreadsheet.

Contact Brett at:   

Brett Barney
320 Lincoln St.
Sterling, NE 68443

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Iris of the Season

The iris reticulata is always the first iris  to bloom in our area.  A bulb iris, it's diminuitive size (3") leaves it mistaken for a crocus at any substantial distance.

Not a Pretty Picture... Yet

Trying to Bud
There are many frustrating times in the garden, but this is perhaps the most testing in my area.  The snow has melted, but in the course of its melt, refreeze and remelt, the ground is so saturated with water it looks like it will never dry out.  Rhizomes succumbed to frost heave and have to be tamped back in. Many of them look so sad that one's hope in their recovery is weak.

Mud and Heaved Rhizomes
 The softened ground weakened the anchors of this trellis.

Fallen Trellis
Even St. Francis could not withstand the winter

Fallen Francis
Cock-eyed Bird Feede
Despite liberal applications of "Liquid Fence" two weeks ago the deer and/or rabbits were not deterred on these tulips.

Eaten Tulips
 The rhizomes that Jim and I potted look pathetic, but alive!

Potted Iris
 The tools of the day: Besides a foot to reinsert rhizomes, these will help clear leaves before the foliage buries them from view.

Tools and Leaves

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Public Sale / Member Pre-Order = SAVINGS!

Our Public Sale is scheduled for July  27th at the Cooperative Extension.  While many of those rhizomes offered for sale will be from members, we do plan to order from hybridizers again this year. 

Mid-America Gardens introduces the new cultivars from Paul Black and Thomas Johnson.  Mid-America provided us with a great selection and at wonderful savings in 2012.  We are also ordering from Keith Keppel who has agreed to include some Barry Blyth introductions.

While we cannot count on specific rhizomes, these orders always include new introductions which we can offer at significant discounts. The specific savings are calculated when we receive the orders.

As a benefit of membership, you get first pick of the club order.  To assure a larger selection, we ask that you commit a pre-order amount.  

Whether it is $10 or $200, please make a check payable to GRIS, bring it to our April 13 meeting, or send it by April 30th to:

GRIS c/o Neil Houghton, Treasurer
3873 Rush Mendon Road
Mendon NY 14506 
If you have not paid your dues, please include $10 to maintain your membership. You’ll more than make up that in savings if you pre-order $20 or more!

This is a great chance to add exciting new introductions by multiple top award-winning hybridizers to you garden!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Advice for Beginning Hybridizers

Advice for 
Beginning Hybridizers
by Clarence Mahan
(article submitted byChris Hollinshead)
The most difficult problem facing an iris hybridizer who is not an established name inthe in the field of iris breeding is not one of obtaining a seedling worthy of introduction. Getting an excellent seedling is, believe it or not, the easy part of an iris breeder’s task. Dr. D.C. Nearpass told me many years ago that if I wanted to get some outstanding seedlings, I had two ways to go about it. First, I could choose only outstanding irises as parents and then raise thousands of seedlings. Cross two outstanding pink irises and grow several thousand seedlings from that cross. The odds favor getting at least one distinctive seedling that has many good attributes. Second, I could study iris genetics and pedigrees and make planned crosses toward specific goals. One benefit of the second option is that one does not have to raise so many seedlings.
There are other decisions a beginning hybridizer can make to increase the odds of getting seedlings worthy of registering and introducing. These decisions involve the types of irises one chooses to breed. If one is going to work in the field of once-blooming tall bearded irises, the competition is going to be keen. There are many people breeding once-blooming tall bearded irises and the established “names” are many. So to increase the odds of getting worthy seedlings that will be competitive; you might want to work with types of irises that not many people are breeding. Work with rebloomers, space- age irises, spuria iris species that do not go dormant in the summer, setosas, interspecies crosses, regeliabreds, miniature tall bearded irises or some other “target of opportunity” where few or no other iris breeders are working.
Resisting the temptation to register and introduce a seedling that is not truly worthy is perhaps a little more difficult than obtaining an outstanding seedling. Do not rely on your own judgment in deciding whether to register an iris. Recruit some experienced judges to give you advice on this, and listen to them. If the experts tell you to use the seedling for future breeding but do not introduce it, do what they say. If they tell you to compost the seedling, you can keep it but do not register it. This takes will power, but it is not the most difficult problem that a beginning iris breeder has to confront.
The most difficult problem a new iris hybridizer has is how to get his or her outstanding new iris distributed, recognized and into the running for awards. This is a subject about which I think I have learned a thing or two, and will presume to offer some advice. The first piece of advice is this: Forget about making money on your iris. If you are not an established name in the field or do not have a large iris nursery and a catalogue with color pictures, you are not going to make much money on your seedling. Even if you are lucky and do make a few dollars, it is probably going to be at the expense of getting wide distribution and recognition of the iris.
Get the seedling distributed before it is introduced. If the iris is a tall bearded, border bearded, miniature tall bearded or some other type that is likely to be blooming at the time of national conventions or regional spring meetings, send it as a guest to these affairs two or three years in advance. There is always a call for guest seedlings for future conventions in the AIS Bulletin. Many regions have spring garden tours and put out calls in their newsletters for guest irises. They usually invite well-known hybridizers to send guest irises by sending them letters. As a beginner you will not be getting such a letter. So write to the various RVPs and ask them to be put on the list to get these invitations. The RVPs will gladly give your letter to whoever’s handling their guest irises for future regional meetings, and you will get a request to send your seedlings or newly introduced irises as guests. There will be a limit as to how many rhizomes of each iris. Send the maximum number allowed. Even after your seedling is registered and introduced, keep sending it as a guest to national conventions and regional spring meetings.
If your seedling is a type of iris that is not likely to be blooming at the time the national conventions or regional spring meetings are held, send it to the mini-conventions held by the various AIS sections. Ever since the Society for Japanese Irises started having its own conventions back in the early 1980’s, more and more sections are having these events. Calls for guest irises for future conventions of the various sections are announced in their publications. Once your seedling is introduced, do not ask for the increase back. Donate the increase to the section for its auction. Ask many judges in different regions if they will grow your iris and evaluate it for you. Assuming the evaluations are positive, ask the judges to donate increases to local and regional sales and auctions. Most judges will be happy to do this. In this manner your iris will get wide distribution. Also, send your new iris to test gardens such as the Dr. Loomis Memorial Trial Gardens in Colorado. Your iris will be seen by many judges at these gardens and if it is good, it will stand a good chance of picking up votes for AIS awards.
The most important thing you can do to get recognition for your wonderful new iris is to get some really great slides made. If you are not a competent photographer, enlist the service of someone who is to take these pictures. Do not be satisfied with pictures that are mediocre--have slides that show the iris at its best. As soon as your Iris is introduced, send these great slides to both the AIS Slides Chairman and the person who handles slides for the appropriate AIS section. If your region has a Slides Chairman, send a slide to this person as well.
Finally the single most important thing you can take to gain recognition for your iris is to take out a color ad in the AIS Bulletin - This is not cheap, but it is cheap for the benefits to be gained.
When I was introducing irises for myself and for others through The Iris Pond, I never took out a color picture ad that did not pay for itself. I cannot guarantee you that you will have the same result, but I did not care whether it did or did not pay for itself, and I suggest you should not care either. By far the most important reason for taking out a color ad by a hybridizer who is starting out is to get people to see a beautiful picture of your iris.
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes took out a color ad when I did not have a great picture. So I used what I had. Do better planning than I did—get that good picture in advance.
On one occasion I had a great picture of a new introduction that I used in the Bulletin but it was the wrong picture. When The Iris Pond introduced the Siberian iris SHAKER’S PRAYER for Carol Warner, the picture I used was of a single stalk of the iris. SHAKER’S PRAYER has relatively small species-like flowers, and my friends who are “into Siberians” let me know rather quickly that they were not impressed with the iris pictured in the Bulletin. I should, of course, have had a picture of a clump of SHAKER’S PRAYER showing off its magnificent landscape value. Fortunately, soon after the
ad appeared, many people saw SHAKER’S PRAYER in the tour gardens at the 1991 convention. The rest of this story is now in the realm of the legends of irisdom. And as I previously wrote, even though the picture I used was not the best choice, I sold enough SHAKER’S PRAYER the first year to pay for the ad. Advertising pays.
Those who think that the great era of iris breeding is in the past are wrong. The opportunities for advances and improvements in all types of irises have just begun. Breeding irises is a fun hobby; most people who hybridize irises for a few years get some interesting and meritorious results. Unfortunately, a majority of these good results probably do not get much recognition. What a shame. It need not be so.
(Note from Chris Hollinshead: This article was written a number of years ago so some items may be slightly dated in their references but the majority of the content and advice is still very relevant and useful to the aspiring iris hybridizer.)
From the Canadian Iris Society Newsletter,  Autumn 2013