National Geographic : 1959 May
KODACHROMESBY M. WOODBRIDGEWILLIAMS,NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSTAFF© N.G.S. Pollen-laden Irises Require a Chaperon Lest the Blooms Cross Haphazardly Successful iris breeders need canny instinct and much luck. Out of a crop of 400 seed lings, Stedman Buttrick may save only three that show improvement over their ancestors. He cuts the creeping stems, or rhizomes, of these few into small sections. When planted, each section duplicates the original bloom. Harry Crowell (above) prunes the seedlings daily, one of the many chores that keep three gardeners busy during the growing season. Planned breeding occurs when a gardener rubs a pollen-charged anther against another iris's stigma, first step in producing seed for a new, perhaps improved variety. Some botanists believe the iris's furry, cater pillarlike beard leads insects to nectar deep inside the bloom.