Monday, May 28, 2012

the exuberance of iris

I am sure my love of iris began with my grandmother. Yes, that grandmother. The one who made the quilts. Her second love was her gardens. Not the long rows of beans and tomatoes that any good farm wife would grow. She had those of course. She had to. Remember they did not have the ready access to grocery stores and fresh produce that we now take for granted. Hours spend planting and hoeing the rows. Pickling the cucumbers. Canning the tomatoes. Braiding the onions.

But there was more to life than this. There were also the beds of iris. Not just one bed--but two. Full of every color of bearded iris she could find. Arranged in no set order. Just planted in an exuberance of joy. My father would roll his eyes. Why did she waste so much time digging and replanting these iris when she could be weeding the cabbage? Relatives from the city would plan day trips just to see the bloom--hoping they could persuade her to give them a tuber of that brown iris. Maybe one of the precious yellows also.

And as a young girl I just absorbed the color. Played games among the flowers. Soaked it in not realizing the care that went into these blooms.

Now I walk across the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls right by my studio. Have you been there? Flowers arranged in the most wonderful combinations. This time I soak in all the wonderful details and colors of the iris there. And here without further ado are just a few of the iris that I saw the other day. The wonderful rich blue. So intense in color.

The many different colors in this one. Don't you just love the orange beard and the white edging?

 This one is called Emporer's Dragon.  Love the golden yellow and that rich orange beard.

 Such a pure simple white with just that hint of color. How rich it looks.

And this one--not sure what it is. But I loved it against the tiny Johnny Jump-Ups.

 Isn't the detail wonderful? Do you have a favorite iris? Or a favorite place to view iris? Do gardens from the past still influence you?


  1. Lovely, Ann! Not just the iris(es?) of course, although those are spectacular, but the story of your learning about color from a special person. "Braiding onions" ... now there's a skill!

    1. Thanks Tinky. I confess I have never learned how to braid onions--sigh. Did plant shallots these year--the greens are quite good.

  2. We have a tall bearded iris - no idea what variety it is - that combines a soft purple, gold, and bronze shades. It's my current favorite.

    1. Sounds gorgeous. Are you like me and have a new favorite at least once a week?