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Gardening in America
Dutch Iris
by Nancy Fletcher

Dutch Iris

Memories are like jello in our mind and heart. They are solid but have a tendency to wobble about, sometimes not holding still long enough for us to grasp and hold them. My friend Gladys was like that. She was woven into so many years of my life in so many ways, it would be hard to firm up one particular outstanding event.

The Dutch Iris in my yard every year always bring her face and her personality back to me. Gladys was a wonderful gardener. She was raised in Arkansas and had, indeed, the very spirit of the land upon her. Everything she wanted to grow produced in abundance.

On that day when she dug the little starts from the main plant they might as well have been her children. She ever so gently dug around them. Her hands strong but gentle would wiggle and pull at the stem until a small portion would break away. This was carefully stored in a box setting close by that was lined with newspapers. One by one different plants were divided in order to be shared with me.

The Dutch Iris had already bloomed so I had not a fathom of an idea what they looked like. The leaves were different though, more slender and longer. This fascinated me.  Standing at the back gate there was quite a large clump of them.

"These are blue."  Gladys told me. "These are white."  She set them in two different boxes. "You can see what a large clump there is."  "They will multiply just like the other Iris."  "You will like these better." "They are so beautiful."  "They look like little orchids."  "If you plant them on the south side of the house, or if it is a warm winter they will bloom right about the Mother's Day holiday."  "All the kids are coming in around that time and they are so charming." "They make pretty corsages too, since they hold up well."

Gladys house always looked like she had cleaned each inch of it just that day. On the center of her lovely old round oak dining table she had a beautiful large clear glass round vase. The stems of the Iris did show up in such a striking way. The white flowers were so fresh looking.

"These are still good from when they were blooming."  Gladys told me. "However, I change the water daily, and I keep them in the fridge at night."

Gladys has been gone now for some years, but when May comes around and I walk through the garden or into the front door the lovely blooming Dutch Iris greet me and bring Gladys and her loving, kind,  gentle ways, back to me in memory.

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