|Iris from Spring of 2019|
The spring of 2019 was a challenging year for iris. Straight line winds and heavy rain whipped and drenched the iris beds repeatedly. Yet, somehow, these old fashioned flowers withstood the abuse and kept blooming. Although they look as delicate as hothouse orchids, they are stubborn. As Old House Gardens writes at their website, "Tough, beautiful, and diverse, heirloom iris thrive without care in old gardens and graveyards across America."
I have written about the iris at our farm before--my mother's love for them and my collecting of rebloomers when we lived in the South where winter arrived late enough to allow a second blooming season. My collected rebloomers survive the Kansas weather, but they no longer bloom in the fall.
This year, as I cleared away the leaves deposited in the iris bed the previous autumn and swept aside the sand that constantly tries to smother my iris tubers, I decided to add a little magic to the iris and native wild violet beds.
Our Aunt Freda is an artist. I wrote about her 100th birthday celebration, and this October she will celebrate her one hundred-third birthday! For many years, including into her 100th, she enjoyed painting Kansas scenes on canvas, but eventually even this invincible lady confronted a challenge that required her to give up painting her landscapes and structures. Failing eyesight did not force her to give up painting entirely, however!
She discovered the miniature birdhouses at the craft store and directed her artistic gifts toward painting these tiny houses, continuing her creativity in a way that did not require the detail of her paintings on canvas.
With her usual generosity of sharing her work, she enjoyed gifting these colorful little houses to family and friends. As I worked cleaning the iris beds, I thought of Freda's tiny birdhouses that we had put away for the winter, and decided they would make perfect fairie houses in my iris and violet beds. With a few small stones tucked inside the houses to keep the Kansas winds and curious squirrels from dislodging them, I found protected places in the roots of old trees for the little structures. As stubborn as the iris and violets, the little fairie houses have withstood the wind and rain, and even the curiosity of squirrels and occasional deer. Although I haven't caught sight of a fairie yet, I'm sure they have appreciated a place to take refuge this past stormy spring.