May 22, 2010

On Blue Iris and Family Heirlooms

Some folks salivate at the monetary or luxury items left for them in the wills of their elderly relatives. I suppose that is fine for some people, especially the greedy ones, but I am much more interested in recreating the horticultural collections of my family members. Pictured on your left is one of the stunning blue irises that my 93-year-old grandfather planted many years ago on his property, and I have to admit that these hold much more fascination to me than any worldly goods.

Over the past year I have been surreptitiously collecting samples of seeds, clippings, and bulbs from around his yard in an effort to "save" some of the efforts he put into his landscaping in the nearly seven decades he has lived in his house. The red poppy seeds I harvested last fall have sprouted like wildfire in the past two weeks, and several Rose of Sharon seeds I collected have also sprouted. I also dug up a few daffodil and lily bulbs in my quest to keep a living memory of this wonderful man, a tough character who still drives his own car and whose mind is still sharp enough to hold his own in a political debate, and a person who would never have much use for a product like Clinicallix.

My goal is to be able to look out at these flowers every year and know that there is still a connection to a person who has been such an important part of my life in more ways than I could ever recount or repay. This summer will be the first year in which my transplanted gleanings will blossom, and every time I walk around his half-acre of semi-rural paradise I find another hidden treasure that calls out my name.

Then in a few years I will have to complete the same task with my mom's gardens. She is another green-thumb type with an endless collection of botanical gems waiting to be harvested, split, and nourished.


Historychic said...

Can you recommend some perennials that are beautiful but safe around dogs and kids? Your blue Iris is beautiful.

historymike said...

Dog-hardy perennials:

1. Any hostas
2. Tiger lilies (those orange lilies some call "ditch lilies")
3. Purple coneflowers
4. Shasta daisies
5. Daffodils

These come to mind. The dogs have been hell on our irises and mums.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


A most admirable goal which shall repay you many times over.

I congratulate you on your down to earth goal ;-)

Historychic said...

Thanks Mike! I love the pics you post from your gardens. Keep up the good work and congrats on your wife's new tenture-track gig!