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  • Writer's pictureJohn R


Don’t tell Deb. But I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. Not completely. I couldn’t get rid of all the bearded iris.

It’s not that she didn’t have some good reasons for wanting to clear out the irises. After all, they’d pretty much taken over the front garden. In so doing, they overwhelmed a number of very comely flowers, namely those yellowish things that I really like and those white things that I’m particularly fond of.

It all happened incrementally over the years. With subtle determination, our grouping of bearded iris had spread out in all directions, bully other living things with their muscular tubers and lording their 3-foot tall stalks and shaggy flowers over all. In the process, they sabotaged the half-inch irrigation tubing, tilted stepping stones to dangerous states of incline, and forbade passage to various parts of the garden.


It's probable that a more attentive gardener would have noticed the colonization long before I did. Unfortunately, that was not the case. To my sensibilities, the white and yellow flowers simply disappeared overnight. Poof! and What the F? Where did we get all these bearded irises?


But there they were, swaths of blue and magenta hovering over green, saber-like leaves, and my betrothed did not care for them at all. In some ways, I see her point. They’re a bit ruthless and the blossoms do have a carnivorous, Audrey Jr. appearance, especially when you peer directly down their throats.

See what I mean?

The other side of the shovel is, of course, that the irises can be quite fetching. Their generous blossoms made the garden look plentiful if not exactly well-tended, and truly anything that grows of its own free will and with minimum care at Schiddygarden is always a big plus.


Anyway, Deb proclaimed them an unruly menace and was determined to replace them with something more civilized and demure. And I—with some misgivings—agreed.


But I couldn’t. When the ground turned soft in the early winter, I spaded up their colony and turned them upside down. I knelt by the tubby tubers and admired their fat flesh, glistening with vitality. They couldn’t help being healthy, nor could they help being rare survivors of nutrient-bereft soil. So I gently placed chunks of them in a wheelbarrow and transported them to far-flung locations around our property.

Okay, “far-flung” is rather far-fetched, given the diminutive size of our yard. Nevertheless, I secreted a few here and a few there, mulching them generously with leaves as much for camouflage as for winter protection.


There they will be, taking root in new locations, soon to be dotting the spring with their wily blossoms and surveying their immediate surroundings for new territories to conquer. Being a bit wiser to their botanical aspirations, I suppose I’ll eventually have to rein them in. But for the foreseeable future, they’re yours and my little secret.

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