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Friday, June 22, 2012

Lone Survivor: Yellow Iris

This week

Last year, I saw a friend/acquaintance of 30 years. She worked in a place where I often saw her. We became acquainted through a foundation she created. She was that kind of friend, a little closer than an acquaintance.

She was sitting on a bench at Walmart, holding tightly to her purse which was sitting in the cart full of items, all paid for. When I went over and spoke, she brightened, and I sat down. She greeted me warmly and asked me who I was, hastening to explain she was blind.

It seemed she had moved in with her daughter after falling twice. I told her how I admired her yellow iris all down the property line that separated her from a church parking lot. Mowers had taken them down over the years, she said. Yes, I noticed there were few.

When I asked permission to dig a few bulbs, she just asked that I not take them all. I promised.

last year

Above is all I had to work with. I had my trusty shovel and went to work. You know how my back, shoulder and knee need surgery? You see the iris are at the base of a tree? Remember roots? I was killing myself when one of the church members headed my way, all tight-lipped. We both spoke cheery "hellos" while preparing to take each other

I was determined to state my case and not take any lip at all. No sirree! I was not going to suffer the indignity of being dressed down, even wrongly. Especially wrongly.  "Maureen (not her name) told me I could take a few of her bulbs when I saw her in Walmart. It's too hot to be digging, wouldn't you say?" The woman relaxed immediately and agreed and headed back to the church after a bit more small talk, just like she only came over to say "hello." I never for a moment got defensive, letting her think I knew I was a suspect in flower-napping.  Besides, I would be stupid to choose Wednesday night, right at Bible Study time with a dozen or more cars already there.

I brought my bulbs home in a small plastic bag and put them outside the door on the ground. Of course, I forgot them right there. The hens found the bag and were relentless in their scratching and pecking. In all honesty, I think I may have thrown crumbs on the bag a couple of times. After that, the hens got the rhizomes and scratched them so they had them thrown all over the yard. I gathered the precious rhizomes again. Of course, who knew they had a thing for throwing rhizomes? I gave up. Did you know they can scratch/kick/scratch one over ten feet? Of course, I had cut all but an inch from the tops.

After digging and a little chopping

About three weeks ago, I was shocked to find in the middle of the yard a rhizome with two little triangular green peeps less that 1/4 inch long. HA! I snatched it up and put dirt in the nearest plastic pot. I plopped the rhizome on it's side and covered with more dirt, about three inches. When I watered it well, it was showing a bit, just right. And did it ever grow!

This one is a beginning if a bed/patch of yellow iris. Yep, it's sad, but beautiful. I need to walk the side yard and poke around in the flower bed to see if any other rhizomes are surviving. I tried to explain what a rhizome looked like to exbf who was still clueless. Finally, I told him it would be white and lumpy, sort of like a root, but blunt.

I wish I had iris in every color, but I only have lavender and this one yellow.
Curiously, the hens have never scratched up the few lavender iris. Wonder why? Loose ones are like toys?

Your turn
Have your hens ever turned your rhizomes into a game? Have they been obsessive about thwarting your gardening attempts?.


  1. "We both spoke cheery "hellos" while preparing to take each other"

    I love that line! LOL! We have a huge hen playground and they have not yet found my iris. Even leaving the greens in the garden alone so far-knock wood!
    I hope your flowers divide for you.

  2. In spite of the number the chickens did on your plants, I think it is a lovely tribute to this lady to keep her iris growing.

    1. Sue,
      She spoke wistfully about her husband planting them for her. After his death the people who mowed for her cut them all down except for the few near two trees. So, even though she wanted them to remain, she also seemed glad to share.

      I really did sit and talk with her for fifteen minutes before I asked. In the post I made it sound like I sat down and asked for flowers.

      All around my yard I have flowers dug from my dear, elderly neighbor's yard, given to me when she died.

      I never forget who gave me flowers or from whose yard they came.

  3. LindaM,
    Glad you loved it.TRUTH!

    I don't think they care to dig up iris in the ground. They just would not leave the loose rhizomes, sitting on the ground, yet to be planted, alone! It seems once they get into something, they obssess over it.

    Maybe that one that has two stems coming from it can be divided by me? I think this one has a strong will to live after all the abuse and neglect.

    1. Not sure if you should divide it. I probably would not. I think that you will have a couple more by next year if you just plant but I am no expert.
      Ah, I get it now on the chickens....they get crazy happy when we weed just looking at the roots.

    2. Chickens see bugs and dirt around the roots. I throw weeds with roots and dirt intact into their pen and they go crazy, stomping, and scratching all over, pecking things I cannot see. Then, sometimes they start on the weed itself. They love roots with dirt intact, so I try to not shake the dirt off.

      Throw green grass clippings to them. Also, mine cannot wait for the lawnmower to get out of an area as they eagerly peck around looking for bugs displaced by shorter weeds.

      I will plant the iris soon. The next time it rains, I will take the whole pot of dirt and put it all in the ground so as not to disturb the poor thing again! It spent a year out of soil and lived. Amazing!


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