June 3, 2011

Reluctant iris plant rewards caretaker with blooms

I spent much of the summer of 2010 seeking to cultivate an iris plant in my backyard. The plant had been ignored for years and mowed as grass weekly.

I set up a stone barrier to the lawn mower around the plant and began watering, fertilizing and pulling grass away from it in May 2010.

My iris project continued until the days became short and cold in late September or October.

But the iris apparently wasn’t ready to yield a bloom. The stalks eventually died after heavy frost in the late fall.

Now, in June 2011, following an unusually severe winter and a cold and wet spring, and at a time when I could use a few flowers in my life, the previously unresponsive iris plant has suddenly developed flower buds and delivered a beautiful burnt orange or sienna bloom stalk fully three feet tall!

English poet William Wordsworth wrote, “Knowing that nature never did betray the heart that loved her, 'tis her privilege, through all the years of this our life, to lead from joy to joy."

I do love the natural world of trees, birds and wild creatures wherever I encounter them. They have often served me well when humans have disappointed or failed me.

I never met a duplicitous mule deer, a dishonest magpie, a guilt-ridden robin, nor an unhappy bachelor’s button.

We humans could learn much from nature’s children, should we listen to them without imagined superiority and mastery.

In searching for the Wordsworth line I had remembered from years past, I found several other inspiring flower quotes.

Nineteenth Century transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson observed in his poem, "The Rhodora, "Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, then beauty is its own excuse for being."

And more recently, Eckhart Tolle wrote of flowers in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, “Without our fully realizing it, flowers (became) for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves.

"Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerge, (are) like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless.”

Flowers do indeed have the capacity to reduce our seeming burdens and move us closer to the true reality of an existence beyond the dream world of form--something we are all destined to eventually know.

D. Grant Haynes