Wordy Wednesday: Dad’s irises


Two years ago, when G. was finishing up construction on the outside of the house, I declared the time had come to plant flowers to make it look like more of a home and less like a construction site. Conveniently, G.’s mom’s neighbor needed her flower beds thinned. She offered G. free plants if he would dig them up and haul them away.

Seeing no need to spend hard-earned money on something as useless as flowers, G. latched on to the offer. He and his father went to the neighbor’s house, dug up hostas and irises and brought them home. They were much worse for the wear, limp and beaten down with their leaves ripped and torn. Really, they were some of the sorriest looking plants I’d ever seen.

The area in front of the house hadn’t been cleaned up yet. The dirt was filled with stones, and weeds had run rampant. G. didn’t have time to till or bring in top soil, so instead he put the flowers in the garden, which was going dormant for the winter.

In the spring, G. still didn’t have the time to till the front, so he moved the flowers to an area on the side of the house where he had taken a tree down, and we planted the garden. I thought the plants would die, but they didn’t.

In the middle of the summer, G. tilled a small area in front of the house and brought in compost. I dug up the hostas and irises and replanted them in the flower bed, along with Russian sage, sedum, ornamental grass and a few other perennials that by then had been marked down by greenhouses in our area.

The hostas and iris looked marginally better than the previous spring, but they were still tiny, tattered  plants, and moving them again didn’t improve their condition. I figured if they died, it was no loss since they were free. And, they might come back.

Did they ever! They came up green and luscious this spring, almost as if they knew they had finally found their home. The hostas, whose leaves had been drab and faded, now have strong, bright, clear markings. We have three distinct varieties, one all green, a variegated white and a variegated yellow.

The irises are even more spectacular. Some are chest-high on me, although admittedly, I’m not that tall. But every time we pull into G.’s driveway, and I see them, my heart catches a little. They are so beautiful, and with their height and fullness, they create a wall of vegetation in front of the entrance. I feel like they are our own personal palace guards.

I think of them as G.’s dad’s irises because he helped dig them up, and I think he would have liked them. When he was alive, he planted tulips around many of the trees in G.’s front yard. His affinity for flowers didn’t get passed on to G., but I think somewhere deep down inside G. feels happy about how the flower bed turned out. If nothing else, he got an excellent deal on his landscaping.

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