The iris is the state flower of Tennessee, where I grew up. The classic color is purple, but my mother planted some unusual, beautiful ones on our farm. In addition to purple, there were peach-colored, yellow, and white ones. They were much bigger than the usual irises, almost like the orchid corsages you would wear to church on Easter Sunday.
I don’t remember where she got the starts for them. Irises grow from roots called rhizomes that spread out as they grow. When they get too thick, they stop blooming, so you have to thin them out periodically. Someone gave Mother the starts and she planted them in the yard beside the house. They grew and grew, blooming copiously every year. She thinned them and gave some to my sister Sherrie, who planted the starts at her house.
Years later the irises at Sherrie’s house got too thick, so she thinned them and gave starts to our niece Judy. Judy planted them at her house, and took starts with her again when she moved. Judy also planted some at her mother’s house. She sent me a photo last week, the one you see above–the irises are still blooming, still growing, years after my mother passed away. The sight of that iris took me back to the rows of flowers blooming bravely in the back yard, so top-heavy that the wind or rain would easily beat them to the ground. They bloomed in April in Tennessee, but are just opening now in cooler northern climes.
Mother loved her flowers, and irises always remind me of her. Happy Mothers Day to all.