I stood on a little knoll and looked around me. It was like nothing I'd ever seen, acres and acres of color spread out like a treasured old patchwork quilt made of random shapes and sizes. It was pieced together with strips of green and shades of brown that gently covered the rolling hills. It was an iris farm and every plant seemed to be blooming in glorious color!
The house was much like the home where I grew up in the mountains of Southeast Kentucky, but the iris farm was located in the gentle hills of middle Tennessee. Until I stood still and looked around, I was unable to understand its name, "Wild Iris Rows." The farm, covered in blooming irises, was not planted in traditional rows, not at all. It was planted to fit the rolling hillside. Irises covered every available space, walking paths were straight then curved then branched and wandered around blocks of colorful, wildly planted rows of irises. And that's where the name came from: Wild Iris Rows! I wished in that first moment that I could climb to the top of the tallest tree, just to get a bird's eye view. There wasn't a tree nearby, I couldn't have climbed it anyway, but this is what I saw:
I was traveling with my friend, Mary Ann (Muddymitts), my great gardening buddy. We had missed the bloom peak by a week, the owner told us. I don't think the irises knew that because there was hardly a clump in all those acres that was bloomless. It was so beautiful! We wandered and roamed freely for hours, having been given an alphabetical list of every iris that was grown on the farm. Three typed columns on three pages, it was! We were also given an order form. It was a very orderly system: The iris clumps were labeled and if we saw one we could not live without, we matched its label with the name on the list, which also gave us the price. If we wanted it, we wrote the name on the order form. From there we could leave the form with the owner as we finished or we could take it home with us and order from the website. Either way, our order was shipped at the appropriate time for planting in our own growing zone and the proper time for digging at the farm. It is a very convenient way to purchase those coveted irises that we saw growing there.
I was so enthralled with colors and groups of colors growing side by side, I left my sensible side behind and began to wildly snap pictures of my favorites, with little regard given to their names. Luckily most of them had labels that made their way into my photos. The golden yellows glowed in the sunlight, many of them beside a color complement, midnight blue or deep violet, like Money in your Pocket, Coral Sunset and Black Suited.
I was so glad to have Mary Ann with me. She is much more organized than I am, and she meticulously organized each of her photos with the name that belonged to it. Here are a few of those that we both truly loved:
Shakin All Over *** Padded Shoulders *** Good Lookin
Prom Night *** Syncopation *** Smokin
Vizier *** Diva Do *** Royal Majesty
Are you getting tired yet? Surely not, sit back and click each image to enlarge; get full enjoyment of the ruffles, the delicate veining, and the delightful beard colors. Just imagine that you were there with us. Here are just a few more of Mary Ann's single shots.
Dusky Challenger *** Tut's Gold *** Victoria Falls
Torero *** Strange Brew *** Toastmaster
We made the trip last week, the middle of May, and from our homes in Western Kentucky the distance to Wild Iris Rows was only about 100 miles. It was a great day trip. My irises here at home are now in their final blooms, and most likely those that are planted at the iris farm are nearing their end as well. It isn't too late to be thinking about next year's iris garden and it certainly is a great time to place an order. There are many wonderful websites that specialize in particular plants, but if you live near a plant farm, you should go visit just as Mary Ann and I did. It was the type of trip right in the middle of a glorious week in spring that simply reached deep inside and shook my very soul awake. After a long, cold, unpleasant winter, I needed that.
Here's my favorite of all the pictures we took. I thought for the longest time that it was a clump of Strange Brew, but looking more closely and comparing it to Mary Ann's single image, I think I'm wrong. It's similar for sure, but I can't tell you it's Strange Brew if it really isn't, now can I? So here's my favorite, no matter its name, it's still my favorite. I am sure the folks at Wild Iris Rows will know.
Wild Iris Rows
615- 337- 6812
Thanks to Muddymitts for the trip and for her lovely images, and thanks to the owner of the iris farm for letting us wander in, around, and all over his Wild Iris Rows. It is an incredibly beautiful and well-kept farm.