Daddy’s Iris and the Vole

My daddy had the most beautiful iris bed I have ever seen.

We both ordered from Cooley’s (now defunct) decades ago.

I divided up my collection, but Daddy constructed a bed just for his dozen types.

Those iris exploded with color for years.

Then they got too crowded, so Daddy and I dug them up. We amended the soil in the bed. Then we bagged up the leftover rhizomes and gave them to Daddy’s friends.

We attached the Cooley planting instructions to each paper bag.

His iris bed looked perfectly spaced and tended. We were looking forward to spring.

Then the cancer came. Daddy could not garden anymore. He could only direct from his chair next to an open window.

During a visit home, I walked up to check the iris bed. The leaves were lying flat on the ground, detached from their half-eaten rhizomes. A vole had been eating my precious Daddy’s precious iris.

I researched solutions, I mixed sharp gravel in with the soil, smashed every tunnel and installed a stake that makes noise. I guess this helped some.

Daddy died in July that year.

I still tend his iris bed. There are signs of a vole despite my efforts.

The iris are blooming again now. Only two are hybrids. The rest are old types that were never planted there.

Maybe Daddy and I missed some seed pods during that terrible time. I do not know.

Let’s Dance and Night Affair bearded iris from Cooley’s

All I know is I feel like I keep losing things of great value no matter how hard I try to prevent it.


Blackberry Lilies

The Belamcanda chinensis are competing for attention in a rather crowded field of flowers today.


These beauties are really in the iris family, but are called Blackberry lilies.

There are several colors.

My dark “Leopard Lily” must have crossed with


my yellow “Candy Lily”


to produce this unusual tie-dyed look.


Another surprise in the garden!



Iris Identification

I try really hard to keep good records of which plants are where in the garden.

Sometimes the flowers move on me and I have to figure out who moved where.

So we are piecing together the history of a mystery iris.

I thought I got it from my dad.

I thought it had one name, he gave me another from his records.

Neither name matches this beauty.


Its features match an iris I got from Cooley’s Gardens decades ago.¬† I thought it had disappeared.

After much discussion and comparison to photos on the American Iris Society website.

I am declaring this beauty ‘Jelly Roll.’


Welcome back Jelly Roll!


Taco Supreme

Taco Supreme is an iris of mystery.


The light plays tricks with the blooms all do long.

Its beige turns to peach


and its burgundy turns to red…or is it purple?


What a color-shifter it is!


Is this a trick or a talent?


Taco Supreme is a surprise.


‘Little Much’ Shows Up

I was very excited to find ‘Little Much’ amongst the ‘Persian Berry’ patch this afternoon.

I try to separate out the slow-growers.

I thought I had lost this lovely lilac and white bearded iris.

What a nice discovery on an otherwise strange day.

I hope it is a sign not to lose hope.

I am struggling with my other blog and book.

I want to drop it all until the fall.

I am the FLOWER after all!

Flow movin’ slow.


This iris bloomed for the first time on Easter morning.


It will continue to bloom periodically all summer and into the fall.

It is only about two feet high, so should be planted in the middle of a bed

instead of the usual back row of hybrid bearded  iris.

It is easy to grow, elegant and deer resistant.


Bearded iris, Iris germanica ‘Immortality’.


If Iris were Dresses

If Iris were dresses, I’d have quite a wardrobe.

There would never be worries about what to wear.

I’d wear Persian Berry to the ballet

and dream that I too am leaping and twirling.

Easter Sunday would call for the bright, sunny yellow of Banana Frappe’.

For a run south of the border, I’d don Thunder Echo

and dance the Tango and Rumba in practical shoes with ruby buckles.

A skyscraper evening with sparkling drinks would require Immortality with diamonds.

For a night on the town, I would slip on Little Much, full of ruffles and sparkles.

For a trip to the seashore the attire would be Shipshape,

with matching blue flip flops and a straw bag and hat.

An evening at the symphony deserves an attire of Night Affair with amethyst earrings.

But since iris are just flowers and I just the gardener,

I’ll slip on my apron with tools in its pocket and dream in my garden,

My garden of dreams.