Saturday, May 23, 2015

Channeling Georgia

When I lived in Washington the first time, we had a house on almost four acres. A lot of it was fenced pasture, some of it was down a ravine, but close to the house was a collection of raised beds for vegetables and an open flower garden area. At that time I was working at a junior high school so I had summers off and I traded working with books in the school library for working with new favorite things - plants in my garden.

I was a city girl and had never had a garden like I made at that house. Maybe I'd plant a lilac here or there, but nothing ever on the scale of that property. I estimated that I spent more time outdoors the first summer we were there than I had all of my life until then. It was a full time job that I loved. The lengthening days filled me with an excitement to go to nurseries and into the garden.

A few weeks ago HH and I drove to Superstition Iris Farm. When I lived in Washington there were lavender, tulip, rhododendron, peony, and dahlia gardens and farms that I enjoyed visiting so I jumped at the chance when I saw iris were in bloom. Add to that the fact that HH had never experienced such a thing, which in itself is an event, and it was a done deal.

It really was gorgeous inside. I think we were there about mid-season, so some plants had already peaked and some were still in bud, but there was plenty to see and make me wistful that I still had a garden.

What color iris do you want? Yes, they have it whether it's a modern or heirloom variety.

These are all examples of bearded iris, so called because of the fuzzy strip at the base of the bloom.

Because I love flower close-ups, I've cropped my photos significantly. To my eye, angels, not the devil, are in the details. I share Georgia O'Keeffe's appreciation of an intimate view of a flower.

The spectrum of color is wide-ranging, from a deep purple that is almost black, to ivory, gold, or the frothiest pink.

The elegant petals of the bearded iris serve very practical purposes. The upright petals or standards act as colorful flags to attract pollinating insects.

The downward curving petals, or falls, function as a landing pad for pollinators.

Blotches and veining work like a map that directs the insect to the nectar.

And the distinctive, fuzzy beard attached to the falls helps the pollinators to hang on once there.

Back in the day I was a quilter and read somewhere that if you couldn't decide if colors "went together," consult with nature. 

Superstition Iris Farm has a catalog to order from, but there's nothing like seeing the flowers in bloom firsthand.

With thanks to the University of Minnesota Extension for help in describing the function of the flower parts.


Thought of the day:

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment. - Georgia O'Keeffe