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Stop and Smell the Iris

By bennysplace
May 15, 2015

My ongoing love affair with the iris began when I worked for a small bank in what was once a small town. There was a separate building called the annex, where I would go to fix the staff's computers. One spring my stroll was rewarded with something magical.

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May 14, 2015 8:15 PM CST
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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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My mother was a prize winning iris gardener. As a child I would wander through her iris beds with my nose at the exact height of the fragrant blossoms. I could even tell one from another by the fragrance. Of all the flowers she grew, iris was my favorite because of the wonderful smell.
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
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May 14, 2015 9:24 PM CST
Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
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Hi there foraygardengirl,

Thank you for sharing your memories. Smiling Your childhood memories sound wonderful. I hope you are able to grow some of the divisions of your mom's irises in your garden!

Thank you again and take good care!
May 15, 2015 5:27 AM CST
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
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Thank you for the wonderful article, Benny. I think for just a moment I stood with you, by the beautiful irises, basking in the fragrance wafting about. I love walking near a garden and being assailed by a fragrance that will stop you in your tracks and demand all your attention. After the spring jasmine blooms the irises are the true winners in this regard. I think perhaps the fragrance of the old historic irises we became familiar with as a child is what triggers the love for irises we experience as adults.
Through all of life's changes I have experienced in my 70+ years the iris has been a constant, connecting all parts like a fine thread. When they bloom I feel like I am home again. smiles
Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
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May 15, 2015 8:46 AM CST
Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level
Hi there grannysgarden,

You are so welcome and I thank you too for your very kind words! This makes me smile that you were able to connect with this story and share the experience through my words. You are so right about the iris being a constant connecting all parts. For me, it is not only the iris but the lilac. The very first flowering plant I fell in love (besides the dandelion) was the lilac. I could not get over how something so wonderfully fragrant came from a tree and my mom got excited when I bought her some for her kitchen vase.

Home again. I like that. :)

Thank you again and I wish you the very best!

Take care,
May 15, 2015 11:42 AM CST
Name: Vickie
southern Indiana (Zone 6b)
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I can tell that the patch of irises at the annex was a wonderful respite from the daily grind for you. It is awesome that that period of your life stayed with you all these years and what a great impact it has made on your life.

I find it amazing that something as simple as a fragrance can cause a lifelong love affair with a plant and create lasting memories of our experiences.
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
May 16, 2015 7:02 AM CST
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
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I really enjoyed your lovely description of the iris fragrance. I could imagine it too. I have memories of lilacs when I grew up in Canada. The 4 plex we rented had a huge lilac bush. Our family would cut the flowers , make bouquets and my sister and I would deliver them. Now that I live in the south ,I miss those lilacs.
May 16, 2015 8:21 AM CST
Name: Angie
Concord, NC (zone 7)
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Benny: thank you for this lovely tribute to a sentimental plant. I think most of us associate irises with grandparents' gardens,
along with roses, jonquils, hyacinths and pansies. I am fortunate to have a few fragrant irises but nothing like the potency
you describe. I shall have to visit Old House Gardens and order a few of these. I appreciate fragrance in my garden and
try to plant accordingly. Thanks so much for your description of your experience. I felt as if I were right there with you.
I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day. ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

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May 18, 2015 12:17 PM CST
Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level
Hello all,

Thank you for your wonderful comments and my apologies for the belated replies.


It truly was wonderful and I need to make a pilgrimage to the site to see if the irises are still there. Maybe the owners need homes for some divisions! Smiling Thank you so much and I wish you all the best!


I am sorry you no longer can grow lilacs. They are another of my favorite flowers. I should write another article about discovering them as a child and giving the bouquets to my mom. That is another wonderful memory I will always have. We were out of town this weekend and we headed toward the mountains and their lilacs are just coming out and I was able to watch my 9 year old enjoy that same gorgeous fragrance I enjoyed at his age. Smiling Thank you for sharing your memories. Wishing you all the best!


You are so welcome and I thank you so kindly! Judging by how everyone replied to all the iris photos, articles, etc. this week, it shows just how much we all love this flower. It is one of the best parts of spring and summer. You should definitely visit Old House Gardens and see if you can't get some of these. You will love them!

Thank you all again and blessings to all. Take care!
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