What a Month!
With eyes barely peeled open at O’Dark:30, we arrived at Center 50+ to set up for the show. Luckily, lots of helping hands were there and the show floor was ready for exhibitors in record time. Eager exhibitors sailed through prep of their entries. Even the judges, though off to a slow start, finished early—a first! The 150 or so entries of all sorts made judging a pleasure. Congratulations to Keith Keppel, who garnered Best Specimen of Show for a jaw dropping, monster stalk of ‘Blind Ambition’ and Best Seedling for 08-25A (orange ground dark plicata TB).
With the judging over, we settled in for a hearty sandwich lunch. It was so nice to relax and enjoy a leisurely chat with our iris friends—nothing better. At the end of the day, volunteers whipped through tear-down in 40 minutes—another record. THANK YOU all for participating in this memorable gathering.
Two weeks whizzed by and we gathered again, this time at Keith Keppel’s to learn how to evaluate tall bearded seedlings. We crammed almost 40 people from Oregon, California, and Australia into Keith’s packing shed for training by the master on the key features of promising TB seedlings and those that head to the compost pile. His comparison of bare stalks was particularly valuable. One stalk had a slight S-curve to it, a feature he likes because it allows the flowers to stand away from the stalk. He also advised, “You can have too much of a good thing.” Making lots of crosses and looking at lots of irises is essential to discerning the differences.
Attendees were then tasked with picking a favorite seedling out in Keith’s field and defending their choices. People took the task seriously, as evidenced by the intent looks on their faces as they searched for The One. After discussion of some of the favorite selections, Keith compared two similar dark brown plicata seedlings and pointed out how more intense yellow ground color on the falls of one was distinctive. Such a small step forward may take years to develop, but as Keith said, “It’s SO much fun!” He closed the session by pulling the falls off a whitish iris blossom so that we could feel the ridges formed by the veins at the top of the fall—something new. The ridges weren’t apparent by sight, but we could sure feel them. Just as the clock struck 12 Noon and it was time to go, rain started to fall—perfect timing. What a great way to spend a morning!
THANK YOU, Keith, for sharing your many years of iris wisdom with us.
Now we can look forward to some iris R & R—or rather D & R—while we Dig and Replant our gardens this summer. See you in August at the potluck/auction!
You may wonder why your bearded irises don’t always bloom. Some possible reasons include:
The best way to get consistent bloom year to year is to try different varieties, grow them as well as you can, and replace the ones that don’t do well for you.
Mid-America Garden Expands
Thomas Johnson has added a 10-acre lot about two miles east of Mid-America’s primary location on Lakeside Drive. The new field currently is filled with named varieties from the Mid-Am catalog and some seedlings. Iris visitors will appreciate that the land is FLAT—easy to walk. To visit the new location, travel east about two miles on Lakeside Drive from the main Mid-America location. Look for the huge iris field on your left.
We are the Oregon Trail Iris Society and we meet monthly in the Salem area. Each meeting has a new and fun topic. You don’t need to be a member to join us.