• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I fell in love with Irises the day I first saw the small purple flowers hiding in some grass.

I don't have any 'in bloom' pictures like them  but Julie Tollefson (stranger to me) put up some photos this spring that look exactly like the few I now have in my garden.

An older empty home stood on the corner of some of the land my father owned.  Eventually he used the old house as a barn.  I was quite young and grass sometimes grew to my shoulders or taller.  Walking through it meant parting it and being careful to not catch my feet on the tough stalks and fall.

I have 4 older brothers. All the kids that lived in the valley we called home often played together - 'cops and robbers', 'cowboys and Indians' - or some other hiding chasing game of good guy vs bad guys. We also enjoyed hide and seek.

My legs were short and my young legs never could keep up. I heard them yell to 'come see' and saw them all stooped and looking in the grass at something but by the time I got there they were gone.

Careful searching (with the help of a kind brother) did not help me find the place 'of flowers' indicated by the older kids from afar with a vague wave of the hand in my general direction (in response to my cries). We finally gave up.

My brother and I played some other 'hide in the grass game' and then when we least expected to see them there they were - tiny purple flowers not much above the roots of the grass, on stems too short to pick and carry home.  I was delighted. I think I was the most pleased because they were tiny - just like me - I was always the littlest kid in any group of my age and often played with my brothers and kids like them that were a bit older.

bread tag 2cmx3cm

I am still delighted.
A few that are similar grow in my garden.
Some are only an inch or two tall.
They are my babies.
They are the smallest of my irises.
My mother gave me a start of them.

note the same bread tag on front leaf near center

My mother also gave me some medium sized purple irises.
They grow to about 8 inches tall and see truly huge -
compared to the tiny ones.
They live around the base of my apricot tree.
They are typical vigorous spreading irises.
I love them anyway.
They are getting crowded.
It is time to divide and conquer them -
but what do you do with a million new ones that I can't bear to throw out?

Do you want some?
Honest - they are always less than a foot tall,
even when they are in bloom -
and spread less quickly than the larger ones.

Next I have quite a few large Irises.

same tag about center clipped onto a leaf -
 these leaves at end of the season after blooms 

Bearded irises come in endless varieties and colors. They are very hardy and do tend to spread and meander away from where you plant them.  They are almost impossible to kill.  The most serious problem seems to be an affinity for grass.

Since they are so large spreading growth tends to become a problem quickly and they must be 'divided'.  (They are often well over 18" and I have a few that reach almost 3' when the stalks tower above the leaves during bloom times - and the sword shaped leaves are always a couple of feet tall.) I have given so many away that now I just throw them in the trash.  I can't keep up.

 I love all the colors I have ever seen.  I only have so much yard space - I look - oh and ah at yours (and catalogs and nurseries) - and walk away.  Some one has given me all of mine except one - I admit I had to buy the pale blue one that glistens like it is dusted in glitter.

I also admit I am seriously thinking about
a pleasantly pale pink variety - but where will I put it ...
sigh - maybe ...