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How Does Your Garden Grow?

By Roberta McReynolds

Early Spring finds gardeners standing back to assess their yards. What new plant can be tucked in? Does something need to come out, or can it be saved with tender care and expert advice?

I’m sure many of you have carefully planned gardens. Some inherited landscaping left by a former owner. My yard is one of those spontaneous kind of creations. Before you pass judgment (I can see some of you cringing), keep in mind that I suppose the reason I am so content with my garden is because it reflects my lifestyle and the kind of person I am. Look at your plants and think about what they say about you.

I have several plants that carry a family story. I might not have selected them for myself, but I would fight to keep these alive. Over the past couple years some new additions have followed me home from the local garden club and district club meetings. Funny, but those plants always seem to do so much better than anything I buy at the nursery.

The biggest change in my yard has been the iris population. Everyone was given an iris from the speaker at the first club meeting I attended. I won’t go into the grisly details, but let’s just say I was bitten by the iris bug and made some purchases to go with my free rhizome and the iris I’d transplanted from my childhood home. The following year I tried my hand at hybridizing. I made seven successful cross pollinations resulting in 195 seeds. I stared at them with a mixture of pride and trepidation. (I wonder if Dr. Frankenstein felt the same?)

So ... I planted. Rows and rows of containers, all carefully labeled with the names of the iris parents. I waited all winter, wondering how my 'babies' were doing. One day I took a peek and was amazed to find 30 young iris poking up through the soil. The next day there were 36!

My husband stared down at the slivers of green and asked, appropriately, "What now?"

I glanced over my shoulder at the yard, trying to veil my concern for space, "Um, I’m not sure. But look at them! Aren’t they cute?"

He wasn’t really distracted, but he’s a tolerant man. Each year he helps make a little more space in the garden and humors my annual spring cross pollination ritual, striving to create some new and exciting color of iris. The rest of the year is spent waiting and dreaming up exotic names for the iris which will one day bring me fame and fortune. Someday.

Whether your garden grows with silver bells, cockleshells, or pretty maids in a row, I hope it’s your heaven on earth.

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