Irises forum: When did you fall in love?

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Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
May 11, 2015 7:53 AM CST
In honor of Iris Week here at ATP, I thought it might be fun to share how we fell in love with (became addicted to) Irises.

I'll start!

When I was eleven years old, my parents bought their first-ever house. We had lived in a beautiful old home, which my parents had rented for years, in an established neighborhood/town. Because they were renters, my father did not do any plantings there, except for a vegetable garden.

The house that they bought was the first block of a coming neighborhood, built out in the middle of cornfields and prairies in the far-west area of Chicago. It was here that my father's green thumb developed, as landscaping was started from scratch. He planted grass, trees, hedges -- you name it -- as well as flower beds with roses and other blooming plants, including a couple of Irises. It was the first time that I'd ever seen an Iris.

During the carefree days of youth, my brother and I would take bicycle excursions out into the prairies and pretend that we were explorers. Actually, we were! Smiling

On one such excursion, we came across the foundation of a long-gone farm house. Growing happily next to the foundation stones was a clump of Irises -- the color of which I had never seen before. My father's Irises were plain purple -- and these were two-toned: tan up (standards) and maroon down (falls). I was so excited and couldn't wait for my father to get home from work that day so I could tell him about my exciting find.

When I told him about the Iris, and where it was, he grabbed a shovel and put it in the car -- and me -- and we drove out to where the old homestead had been. There were the beautiful Irises growing out in the middle of nowhere, just like I had said. He dug up the clump, brought it home, and planted it in his garden.

It was a beautiful old Iris -- and I was very proud that I had been the one to discover it. I waited for it to bloom every spring. My love for Irises was born at that time and has never left me. I so wish that I had a rhizome of that Iris today and I wonder if it truly was as beautiful as it seemed to me back then -- way back in 1956!!! Green Grin!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 8:45 AM CST
I had always been around plants, both the ones that produced food for the table and the ones that produced food for the soul. I loved the things Mama grew and, as a very small child, I would follow her about making sure all of the tiny seeds she would sow were where they were supposed to be. Mama would tell me what each one was for and why she was planting it.
One spring, when I was seven, our school was teaching us about bulbs from Holland and we had a 'Spring Flower Week' and each of us were asked to bring a bouquet from home. Our property was lush with growth and bloom during all of the growing season. I told Mama I needed to take some flowers to school for our flower week. For the first time I followed Mama about as she reaped bloom stalks instead of vegetables, berries or fruit. She made me such a bouquet that I was afraid I could not carry it. As she cut the tall heavily laden stalks she told me about the iris. She said it had three standards, one for faith, one for wisdom and one for valor and three falls, one for the beginning, one for the middle and one for the end. She said my life had a beginning and would, in the future, have a middle and someday I would have an end. She told me that I would need faith, wisdom and valor to make all the parts of my life happy and successful. I marveled. Not only were the irises exceptionally beautiful, lifting their petals up to the heavens in joy and down to the earth that sustained them, they were also noble.
Mama made two huge bouquets of the stalks and wrapped the stems in wax paper so I would not get too wet. I had to walk a ways to school and with a huge bouquet in each arm I must have looked a site. The bottom of the stems came almost to my knees and the tops of the blooms towered over each shoulder. I hugged these noble flowers and felt beautiful. I slipped into school and up towards the teacher and I still remember to this day the look on her face as the shy child hidden in the flowers moved steadily towards her. She jumped up and began to relieve me of my burden and ask 'where did you get all of these beautiful irises?' I wondered at her lack of knowledge. didn't she know every mother has a wonderful garden full of beautiful irises?
I was a shy child (yes I was - no snickering now) but I did not hesitate that day when I was asked to get up in front of the class and tell them about the irises. How could I have shrunk from telling them about such a noble and beautiful flower. I was full of courage as the irises looked on.
That was my first time as a 'public speaker' but not nearly my last, as for many years I made a fair living appearing before audiences.
Some years ago I had come to a place in my life where I did not know what direction to take. I had expressed my feelings to an artist friend. She did a caricature of me walking down a road approaching several forks. In this drawing I had a hobo stick over my shoulder, as luggage, with the bandana tied to the end of the stick. The bandana was full of irises with them sticking out of each end and clinging to its side.
The iris is more than a flower to me it is a connection to people who have held my hand and shared their knowledge and love and who are now long gone from this world. It is a connection to that shy tow-headed child who was looking forward to the middle and, yes, even the end. I know it is just a plant but........ it is an iris.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Muddymitts
May 11, 2015 9:19 AM CST
I love that story, Bonnie!! Lovey dubby
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
tveguy3
May 11, 2015 11:08 AM CST
Yup, that one deserves some acorns so it gets noticed in the newsletter! Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 11:33 AM CST
thanks, you two. smiles ..... and Mary Ann, the excitement of the iris rescue in your story was so palpable I almost felt like I went with you and your Dad to dig them up. lol
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
May 11, 2015 11:41 AM CST
Both stories are so eloquently told! I tip my hat to you. to both of you!! I fear any story of mine is quite mundane in comparison. Just lovely stuff.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 11:50 AM CST
Leslie, it does not matter how long a fire has been burning it is still just as hot as another. Whether your love for irises has been years long or months long it is a story we will all be able to relate to and share with you. Tell us how, why and when you knew that irises should be part of your life. we want to share in your joy.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
Image
Zencat
May 11, 2015 2:19 PM CST
My story is short but I do know that this will last awhile. You all did it to me. I'm blaming you and I'm thanking you.

In 2013, I lurked and looked and drooled and made lists. This year, I jumped into the threads with both feet. I liked iris before but you have turned it into a love.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 2:37 PM CST
That is great Celia. You will continue to beautify this world and to enrich our lives by sharing photos and stories with the rest of us. And we will happily continue to support your habit in any way we can. lol
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
May 11, 2015 2:43 PM CST
Our back-yard neighbor when I was a child had his yard filled with irises. About a 40 ft wide property. He was a botany professor at Milwaukee Sate Teacher's college (Now U. of Wisconsin Milwaukee). I used to stand on the bottom board of our picket fence & chat. This was in the 1940s & I was amazed to see a pink iris. He had given my mother some yellow & purple discards. While my favorite flower was lily of the valley, I loved the color of the irises. When I married, my husband's grandmother had some dwarf iris . They were what is now I. lutesens. I had never seen them before. We then saw an ad in a magazine for Ben Hager's Garden in CA. Quote hubby "oh, they have the little ones'. We were off & never looked back. ☺
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
Image
irisarian
May 11, 2015 2:45 PM CST
Note: while typing the above--John called upstairs to say that he saw a fox trotting across the garden. We think there is a woodchuck around & with luck, foxy will take care of it.
[Last edited by irisarian - May 11, 2015 2:46 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #850648 (11)
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
Image
Zencat
May 11, 2015 2:50 PM CST
Good foxy... Big Grin

My neighbor brought over his ex this morning. She chose 4 iris to take to her garden. Thumbs up
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 2:53 PM CST
Spreading the joy...... next best thing to acquiring the joy. smiles
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
May 11, 2015 3:41 PM CST
Similar story to most of the others....My mother, Aunts {and Uncles !}, Grandmothers, and neighbors all had flower gardens.....some large, and some the size of a postage stamp......but they all grew some iris! My mother had several hundred varieties.....whatever she could beg, borrow, or....yes, I'll say it! ......steal ! As far back as I can remember, I'd follow her around the "garden" (which was a "vacant lot" ,next to the house), pulling weeds (and some probably WEREN'T weeds) in order to "help her out". When Rita and I married, we lived in rented homes for the first three years ,or so, until we could afford "our" first home.......and as soon as it was "ours", here came the Uncles, and Aunts, and Grandma, and Mom, loaded down with "starts' of this, and that.......and there were LOTS of iris mixed in with the "this and that" ! I'm lucky to have not only the "iris' that they grew, but the 'story" behind the iris!.........."this one was growing out at the Harrington place, when we moved there....I think it was in '37, or maybe '38". and, " I sent for this one from Henry Field's Catalog just after the war.", or ,my favorite of all, told to me by my "Grandma Ena", This is one my mom grew, when I was little (Ena was born in 1889), and I've kept a start of it ever since, no matter where we moved to !"........and here is it's picture:
Thumb of 2015-05-11/crowrita1/1a628b
Some call it "Honorabile", and some say, "No, it's Sans Souci"....it's been called "Bacon and Eggs", and probably more "garden names " than you can shake a stick at .....Rita and I,.....and now our kids, too, call it "the one from Gandma Ena"
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
Image
TBGDN
May 11, 2015 4:07 PM CST
Copied in part from Iris Popularity thread: I got into irises when my beloved "Daddy" put me to work in an iris/peony nursery at the tender age of 14, and continuing all through high school. He said the weeding, hoeing and sweating would build character and make money! (This was all true except for the money part. There just wasn't that much of it.) I am now a retired senior citizen, and my Dad will always be "Daddy" to me: He was the smartest man I ever knew, but I didn't know it back then! (And I wish now I had gotten around to telling him.) Anyway that was a long time ago, but the pain of working in the hot sun all day was truly a character builder. It made me wonder why anybody in their right mind would ever buy an iris or peony: They just meant more work! I swore then if I ever owned a home or got married I wouldn't have any of this 'stuff' to weed and hoe.

After a military tour of four years, and a long career with an electrical controls manufacturing firm I am now happily retired. So here I am with three grown kids, six grand-kids, two cats, six chickens, one original wife and about 200-300 irises! And this does not count all the other stuff we grow, plant, weed, hoe, spray, and keep tabs on! But, looking back I wouldn't have it any other way, except more time maybe! It just seems all so natural the way it happened.
Thumb of 2015-05-11/TBGDN/cf322a Thumb of 2015-05-11/TBGDN/8caec2 Thumb of 2015-05-11/TBGDN/bcc373


Lux Umbra Dei
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 11, 2015 4:22 PM CST
I am loving these stories. Arlyn, I got watery eyes when reading your story thinking of all the traveling a few of my irises have done throughout the family history. They are truly gypsy irises and yes they are known as Mama's iris, Granny Mann's iris and Aunt Onie's (Iona) iris.

Leon I love your story and the photos of the important things in your life. smiles
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
Image
TBGDN
May 11, 2015 4:55 PM CST
Bonnie- I am just now catching up on the stories. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful and intimate part of your life!
Simply outstanding! (Edited to add: And thanks to all of the above! All are very inspiring and touching.)
Thank You!
Lux Umbra Dei
[Last edited by TBGDN - May 11, 2015 4:58 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #850770 (17)
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Muddymitts
May 11, 2015 8:10 PM CST
Arlyn -- I love the *history* of not only your interest (exposure) -- but the Irises themselves. That is so cool that you have the Iris that your great-grandmother grew. I envy that!!

Leon -- I read your story on the Popularity thread -- and was hoping you would post it here. Smiling Your Daddy did a good thing -- instilling the value of work in you, when you were young. You're right that he was a very smart man. Thanks for sharing not only your story, but also pictures!! Thumbs up P.S. my favorite cat color is Calico. I have a young calico Mom out in the barn right now with five kittens -- one of which is a calico -- and all of which are fancy!!! Lovey dubby
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
Image
TBGDN
May 12, 2015 7:32 AM CST
crowrita1 said:Similar story to most of the others....My mother, Aunts {and Uncles !}, Grandmothers, and neighbors all had flower gardens.....some large, and some the size of a postage stamp......but they all grew some iris! My mother had several hundred varieties.....whatever she could beg, borrow, or....yes, I'll say it! ......steal ! As far back as I can remember, I'd follow her around the "garden" (which was a "vacant lot" ,next to the house), pulling weeds (and some probably WEREN'T weeds) in order to "help her out". When Rita and I married, we lived in rented homes for the first three years ,or so, until we could afford "our" first home.......and as soon as it was "ours", here came the Uncles, and Aunts, and Grandma, and Mom, loaded down with "starts' of this, and that.......and there were LOTS of iris mixed in with the "this and that" ! I'm lucky to have not only the "iris' that they grew, but the 'story" behind the iris!.........."this one was growing out at the Harrington place, when we moved there....I think it was in '37, or maybe '38". and, " I sent for this one from Henry Field's Catalog just after the war.", or ,my favorite of all, told to me by my "Grandma Ena", This is one my mom grew, when I was little (Ena was born in 1889), and I've kept a start of it ever since, no matter where we moved to !"........and here is it's picture:
Thumb of 2015-05-11/crowrita1/1a628b
Some call it "Honorabile", and some say, "No, it's Sans Souci"....it's been called "Bacon and Eggs", and probably more "garden names " than you can shake a stick at .....Rita and I,.....and now our kids, too, call it "the one from Gandma Ena"

I love this story Arlyn, especially the historical part about "Grandma Ena". My problem now is what to call "her iris"; I think I'll re-name it after her instead of 'Honorabile'. Anyway your story kind of explains how it was no doubt spread around. Thanks for sharing this little piece of Americana! Maybe thats where some of mine came from. Anyone need a 'start'?
Thumb of 2015-05-12/TBGDN/14ec18 Thumb of 2015-05-12/TBGDN/2bfb40

Lux Umbra Dei
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
grannysgarden
May 12, 2015 7:38 AM CST
Oh My!!! Ok, I think Leon is a Master Grower! Look at that clump. I would like a start but lets see if there is something on my plant list that you would like a start of then we can talk. LOL
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......

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