Along the steep hill on the east side of the house, there are rhizomatous plants. I didn't know what they were because for the past two summers they didn't produce any flowers. This spring was the first. The irises are blooming.
They are a purple cultivar of Iris germanica, or the very popular "bearded iris," named for the little fuzzy yellow beard that runs down the outer petals.
Like daffodils, irises were widely planted by settling Europeans and often times remain to mark the location of homesteads long after the houses and the people they contained are gone. For us, they have a more personal meaning. They were the favorite flower of Steve's mother and we had a big, beautiful bouquet of purple ones at our wedding in her memory. I like to think that the ones that surround our house are for her too.
There are something like 300 different cultivars of irises. I used to be confused by people who "collected" certain plants; those people who would spend ridiculous amounts of money on a particular hosta, for example. Looking at these flowers, I think I get it now. I don't share the drive to own all them, but I think I understand it. These flowers are beautiful not only in and of themselves, but in their variety. Why wouldn't you want to plant a field where they could all grow together?