Yes, these things are certainly different than the lactiflora “cactus” things, and I’m excited by them myself.
What I meant about varieties perhaps getting worse referred to some experiences I had this year. We had a long row of “advanced selections” which were basically divisions which were taken from seedlings which had not been divided before. Prior to division, these plants had bloomed for two seasons, and we pretty much thought we were seeing their mature flowers. But when grown on for a couple of years from divisions, they didn’t look nearly as nice as I remembered, and we got rid of most of them. The main problem seemed to be “cigar heads” – buds with poor bud covers, which expose their immature petals long before the flower is ready to open. To the point where we questioned why we had kept these things in the first place.
I’m not sure to what degree these sorts of buds are variety-specific, but I suspect that they may be. Rather than having to do with weather or growing conditions. While some of them may have gone on to make nice flowers, like open-budded things such as Red Grace and Ol’ Faithful can do, I find these sorts of buds to be ugly and discouraging.
As others may be seeing with their seedlings, it’s possible to get some awfully large flowers, and herbaceous hybrids which are quite a bit more double that what we see on the market now. The price for this may be poor bud covers though.
“It’s always something” is how it can frequently seem.