Sunday, September 25, 2011

British Iris Society Lecture series

The collection is now split into two locations, for safety and for management reasons. Everything is well settled in and growing on in the last of the summer so we took the opportunity to head to RHS Wisely and listen to a talk by Thomas Tamberg THE siberian Iris breeder, we gathered.

The talk series are in memory of Bryan Dodsworth  the noted Iris breeder. Bryan's son spoke at length about his fathers life and interests and it was quite some time before Irises were even mentioned! An accomplished man indeed. It was also interesting to hear that his collection is also split between The Old Rectory at East Bridgford and the Norfolk home of his son.

Inspired to grow Iris after a visit to Kew Gardens  he went on to pursue a passion for perfecting and improving upon the standard forms of the period. And very few made the Bryan Dodsworth grade and became registered varieties, though 12 of them won the prestigious Dykes medal!

Dr. Thomas Tamberg showed a breathtaking array of plants he had hybridised over many years and talked us through his methods for manipulating nature to produce plants that do what he wants. Thought this sounds glib one of his final pieces showed an Iris that in nature is  a diploid, and thus sterile, he had a laboratory breed from the diploid, adjust the genetic structure, to make it a triploid and so fertile and grew from it a visual clone Extraordinary!

I must admit to being quite bamboozled as the discussion deepened into the genetic break down of various species and how they would, or would not, be able to mix with one another, the number of DNA pairs seeming to be crucial a basic grounding in genetics would have been very useful and I am resolved to make extend my studies in the coming year.

There was discussion on how Colchizine, a derivative of the Colchicum species, can be used to make a variety fertile if it is inherently sterile. Though that said it sounded a very long and complicated process and one undertaken only by the most serious of hybridisers.

Interesting to hear how certain colours are rarer in certain species, light blues and yellows are not common in Siberica's apparently. 

Sitting in front of us was Olga Wells, we have heard so much about her and her interest in MTB breeding, so it was a relief to hear from her that she is not quite so scientific about her breeding program but more intuitive. So there is hope for us yet, and a great deal more to learn in the process.

Dr Tamberg left the group with the fascinating statement that there are many more Hybrid groupings to be discovered!

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