P80609KNurseries are full of plants for sale. That is their business. They sell plants, and whatever plants need. With a bit of money, it is easy to purchase plants to compose an exquisite landscape. That is important to landscape professionals who make a business of composing landscapes to beautify the environments in which they work.

Those of us who enjoy home gardening might also purchase plants that we want for our garden. Yet, our home gardens are more than mere landscapes that are designed to simply beautify. The might also produce flowers for cutting, fruits and vegetables. Some might produce firewood. Gardens are usable spaces for active lifestyles. They are spaces for us to grow whatever we want to grow.

I buy almost nothing for my garden. The last item I purchased was a ‘John F. Kennedy’ rose, and I only did so because it was easier than growing one from scratch, and it is my favorite hybrid tea rose. Almost everything else was grown from seed, cutting, division or even as entire plants taken from somewhere else. They all have stories. My figs and quince are from trees that have been producing fruit in the Santa Clara Valley for generations. My great grandfather gave me my first rhubarb before I was in kindergarten. I found one of my pelargoniums in a neighbor’s trash heap when I was in junior high school. I found another in a creek where I grew citrus in Gilroy in the early 1990s.

My iris are from all over. My favorite are still those from the garden of my great grandmother https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/roots/. Two others came from and ‘incident’ back in college https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/the-colors-of-karma/ . I may grow as many a four white iris, not only because they are my favorite color, but because they came from important origins. The short white iris that I do not like much must stay because it came from my grandmother’s garden in Saint Helens. There is another tall iris that is not a pure white, but seems to be somewhat grayish, but it must stay too because it is the only iris I got from the historic home of a friend’s mother in Monterey. One of my favorite whites was supposed to be red, but must stay because it came from a friend’s home in Lompico . . . and because it is one of the prettiest. I have a purplish burgundy iris that I only recently learned was brought from the garden of a colleague’s grandmother in Placentia, a town in Orange County that really should change it’s name. It proliferated and was shared with the Felton Presbyterian Church, where it proliferated again, which is how I found some on a trash heap. They are a keeper now.

When they were all together in the same garden, I grew as many as fourteen bearded iris, with a few other types. Some of the redundant white bearded iris have been relocated to the garden parcel in Brookdale, just to keep the separate from similar cultivars. Not many have been added, although there does happen to be a group of mixed iris from the garden of a former client in Ben Lomond. I think I will keep them mixed because they are easier to keep track of as a single mixed group rahter than as several separate cultivars.

These pictures are a few weeks old, from when the iris were still blooming. The iris in the picture above came from the garden of a friend in the East Hills above San Jose. The flowers are the biggest of all the iris I grow. You can see how distinctive they are. The iris in the picture below, which is not a good picture, is ‘Blueberry Ice’. It was a gift from the Clara B. Rees Iris Society. It has stout stems to support the very wide flowers that are mostly white with a variable blue edge.P80609K+

23 thoughts on “Souvenir

      1. I am very sentimental about many of the things in my garden because I know where they came from. I do not have anywhere the depth of knowledge and experience that you do. It was a compliment.

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      2. Knowledge and expertise are not needed to enjoy gardening. In fact, for those of us who are not professionals or reliant on our gardens, enjoying it is more important than doing it properly. Being a professional has advantages, but does not make in any more enjoyable in our home gardens. If I wanted to do it properly, many of my favorites, including nasturtiums, lily-of-the-Nile and pelargoniums would be eliminated. I take it as a compliment because ‘sentiment’ is ‘important’. I was just trying to say that some items out there are ‘important’ because of their ‘sentiment’.

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  1. My one and only iris came with a pile of mulch. I also love passalong plants and always think of the people who gave them to me. The idea behind my automatic garden is to grow plants that keep coming back, one way or the other.

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    1. ‘Blueberry Ice’ Is much more blue than it looks in the picture. Of all the bearded iris that I grow, I can only think of one that I am not impressed by. It is that rather grayish white one. I do not know why anyone would grow it; but I grow it now, and probably always will.

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  2. I love this! Sentimental plants are the best! I have lilacs from the ones I grew on my apartment deck before I had any land and those came from the lilac bush in my childhood home (Dad sold the house so really it’s all that’s left) and that one came from my great grandma’s house and she had a real green thumb. I wish I knew where hers came from! Lilacs aren’t that pretty when not in bloom, but I love them and the memories they evoke. I may need to add an Iris to my garden now.

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    1. That is nice that you understand. So many of the landscapes that I work with are designed to merely look good. Home gardens where plants are appreciated for who they are not the sort that I work in, precisely because those who appreciate their gardens tend to tend to them on their own.

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  3. I love how how also garden for memory. I have some very ordinary purple bearded iris which my neighbour gave to me when he was tired of them, and I have now shared them with the other neighbour. I am thinking it would be funny if they went like that down the street little by little. I only wish they were something a bit more special than this deep purple (although the colour is beautiful).

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    1. That is how mine started. They are probably Iris pallida, rather than a fancy breed. They came from the garden of my great grandmother, so were probably grown for culinary purposes rather than for flowers. Once they arrived in Santa Clara, they were shared with neighbors, and really got around. Once I got mine, they did the same, by getting around the neighborhood. Some went to Oregon to do the same, and some came here to to the same. If you ever saw the television show, “the Osbournes”, you might have seen some of them blooming on the flowering stairway out front. (I never saw the show, so I really do not know.) Although they are nothing fancy, they are very special to those of us who know what they are. Even those who do not know what they are really like them because they are not fancy and garish.

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  4. Bearded Irises have been a favorite of mine for a long time. I don’t have any family history associated with them, nor do I know anyone who grows them. I now have six varieties and have ordered several more due to arrive in the fall. One of the varieties I have was here when we bought our house, and is a lovely white and purple but I don’t know it’s name. It has flourished ever since we removed the poorly located tree that the iris had been planted under. Another variety was a reject from my parent’s house. The bulbs were brought here and accidentally left in the yard. They have rooted themselves in the grass! Oh well, we shall see how they do. I now have a daughter-in-law that likes to garden, so maybe someday she’ll get some of these!

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    1. My great niece is too young for gardening, but really liked the Iris pallida in bloom. She does tea out in the garden. I am the fourth generation to grow it. She could be the sixth.


  5. I love bearded iris and of course, they are passed along so often that one loses track of their names. I have a few pretty ones grown from seed. I love your ‘Blueberry Ice’.

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    1. Seed?! I never would have tried seed, just because there are already too many out there. The last thing any of us need is more!
      ‘Blueberry Ice’ was one that I thought would be just mediocre. I was still trying to find the best white back then, and thought that my Iris pallida was the best blue ever. (Iris pallida has a very simple and somewhat small bloom on tall stems.) Once ‘Blueberry Ice’ bloomed, I liked immediately. It can be slightly different from year to year, but never disappoints. The blue makes the white even prettier, and it happens to look great with taller white iris in the background. The stems are quite stout and proportionate to the big blooms. It accidentally became one of my favorites.


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