52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris in My Flower Bed

It all began many, many, many years ago when Bearded Iris entered my life. I was eight years old when my parents purchased their first home.

I was aware of fauna and flowers before then. I remember the bees buzzing in the Rose of Sharon that lined the walk that led to our small rental house. We were warned not to step on the persimmon fruit that fell in our yard. Persimmons were messy and stuck to the soles of our shoes. I don’t blame my mom for not wanting the mess in the house.

We moved into our new home a few weeks before school began after Labor Day. Our backyard was nondescript, or so I thought. It was a square with green grass and clover. Barefooted, we had to watch where we stepped to avoid the sting of the bees that occupied the yard. An old-fashioned wire fence surrounded the yard. In one corner was a stone Bar-B-Que pit. Two sides of the fence were filled with flower beds. One included a long patch of spike-like leaves and the other was filled with greenery and a peony bush.

Not shortly after school started, I remember we each had to pack the items in our desks and carry them from our old brick school building to the new, modern school across the street. It was the fifties, after all, and the enormous post-war baby boom necessitated leaving the old for the new. I spent that fall and winter learning and forging new friendships. And, yes, I did trudge through inches and inches of snow to get to the new school. We were a small community within the larger St. Louis County that had no school buses. And schools RARELY closed for bad weather.

I reveled in the budding trees and emerging flowers as winter faded into spring. And to my amazement, our backyard came to life. The peony set on buds that opened to beautiful pink flowers. Not to be outdone, the row of green spike-like leaves pushed up stalks too numerous to count that burst into bloom with dark purple flowers. My mom explained they were Bearded Iris. The blooms filled the yard with a sweet aroma that lasted for a few weeks when the flowers eventually faded away. Shortly following in May blue, pink, purple, and white blooms of cornflowers known as Batchelor Buttons appeared in the flower bed. I looked forward to the mass of flowers every spring until we moved into a different home ten years later.

Today my garden has many Bearded Iris. The variety of colors offered today is staggering and so much more interesting than the plain purple iris border in the yard of my youth. And yet, I look back to that time with fond memories of the iris and how much my mother and I loved them.

From the Longfield Gardens Website, https://www.longfield-gardens.com/article/all-about-iris/

Bearded Iris: Also known as German iris, bearded iris bloom in mid to late spring. The flowers have upright petals called “standards” and cascading petals called “falls”. Running down the center of each fall is a “beard” that resembles a furry caterpillar.