Monday, May 10, 2021

In a Vase on Monday, But I've Packed All the Vases!


Iris Amigo in the front border

Dear friends,

I feel rusty beginning a blog post after a year of not blogging.  Even rustier attempting to do so on this, my old Blogger site!  But I intend to change things around on my website, and I want to test out the possibilities of using a dedicated blogging platform again.

Meantime it is Monday...

...and I have indeed packed all my vases (more on that shortly).  I located a canning jar for today's bounty of irises--more on them also!

My posy is haphazard to say the least, but I am much too exhausted to do more with it!  Here we have the lovely apricot-brown iris Jean Cayeux and the equally magical purple and lavender iris Amigo.  Also a few sprigs of Heuchera.

I have wanted to celebrate In a Vase on Monday time and again and again.  In fact, there have been Mondays when I have managed to pick and arrange flowers and even to photograph them.  But the entire process from flowers to post has been a bit beyond me over the past year.  I've had to deal with ongoing chronic pain issues, along with a good many other things, and I just couldn't manage to keep the blog going.

But life is changing at last.  So here is a post for the wonderful IaVoM with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden

As I said in the title, my vases are packed, and my irises will also soon be "packed".

Upon moving to Missouri at the start of 2019, we intended to move back to the southwest as soon as possible, ideally in eighteen to twenty-four months.  We are just at twenty-eight months, and we are on the cusp of heading to our newly purchased home north of Tucson, Arizona.  Our house here is under contract. Granted, it has taken about seven months since we began the whole process, but still, perhaps we haven't done too badly on the scheduling, given the difficulties of recent times!

At the moment, I don't really want to say too much about our experiences here in the Midwest.  It has proven a difficult time for my sister and me, and I would not choose to return here again.  Ever. The countryside is precious and beautiful and sweet, and we were able to stop the financial bleed we were facing.  But the hatred and insanity we have all seen play out on the national scale over the past few years are very present and very real here.  The lack of kindness and of normal human respect for anyone or anything is abysmal.  Everything we have achieved here (and we have made some progress in our lives) has been done long-distance or entirely alone.  Enough said!  We are moving away!

In the meantime, I did manage to plant about half of a border.  Some of it you may have seen before I stopped blogging altogether.  But as we are at the height of the iris season right now, I thought I would present my entire little collection of standard bearded irises--all four of them.

These are all so-called historic irises.  I'm not sure what the accepted date for "historic" may be, but each of these was introduced before 1940.  They have a grace and simplicity that I find delightful.
Mary Geddes

It seems impossible so far to capture the thrill of the rich, earthy, ochre hues on Mary Geddes.  She is quite a beauty, though looking ever-so-slightly weather-beaten here after everything was doused in quarter-sized hailstones a couple of nights ago.  She remains undaunted however, and supplies much-appreciated brilliance on even cloudy days.

She and Jean Cayeux (below) are the latest to flower, having opened their first blooms each on the same morning.
Jean Cayeux
Jean Cayeux is also apricot-brown, but in a somewhat more yellow tone and more even color.  It was introduced in France in 1931 and has contributed to the development of later tan- and brown-hued irises since then.  This is not to say it has been superseded.  It has its own inimitable grace and a soft, pale, summery color that brightens to a vibrant apricot when the sunlight falls through the petals.
My original order included a very pretty-looking nineteenth century plicata.  As there was no notification of replacement, I have to assume the arrival of this gorgeous purple and lavender-blue iris instead was a labeling error, but what a lovely error!  My sister helped me surf through photos online, and we have little doubt that this is Amigo, introduced in 1934 and awarded in 1945 by the English Iris Society.
Indian Chief

This splendid wine and gold and bronze and almost-pink classic was introduced in 1929, making it the oldest variety I am growing thus far.  It is said to be a common noID variety in the eastern US, thanks to its durability as well as prevalence of planting over the years.  For me, it has been the earliest tall bearded iris to bloom both last year and this.

I posted about it last year as well, just before I ceased posting altogether; and my picture then does it more justice as I was still using my camera instead of my phone.  (Note: there is nothing wrong with my camera at present, only with my computer!  It takes digital gymnastics to post camera photos at present. I haven't got the energy!)

Well, there is one more thing I must share though it has nothing to do with the garden.  Last summer saw the birth of a wonderful little filly, daughter of my mare Sugar and stallion Toots, more correctly known as Suwannee Bonita and Suwannee Two Step.  Frou Frou has been a delight, and her arrival has done more to keep me moving forward than anything else.
Baby pictures, anyone?
Frou Frou at three days old

To mark just how close we are to moving, all my horses arrived safely in Arizona this morning.  They will be staying with our previous veterinarian there until I have some facilities up for them at our new place.  I'm already missing them all, and they only left yesterday morning!  I had better get back to packing...

I'll try to update you all fairly soon on the prospects of the new garden.  Put briefly, it's in USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 10.  There will be a bit of winter as it is at higher elevation.  Summers should be a shade milder than my earlier desert garden, but with climate change I can't be too sure what that will actually mean on the ground.  

And it is currently nothing but bare ground.  I will be starting very much from scratch.  But that is how my last garden began, and I am so happy to be returning to my beloved Sonoran Desert.

Lastly, I want to thank those of you who continued to leave comments for me on my last post.  I was simply too upset and fatigued with everything to respond, but those comments were deeply appreciated.  Thank you for caring!
Frou Frou, again!


  1. It's so great to find you back, Amy. I'm sorry to hear that the move to the Midwest was more difficult than you'd expected but I'm glad you and your sister were able to manage through the challenges and implement your plan to return to Arizona. Congratulations on your new filly, the purchase of a new house, and your beautiful bearded Irises (plants I've had only limited success with). Best wishes on your move! I look forward to seeing posts from your new location.

    1. Thank you so much, Kris. It's been a struggle, but we're inching our way forward. And of course I've been dreaming about new plants for months. ;) Hopefully some plants that I love but just couldn't quite get through the Phoenix summers will be amenable to the new location.

  2. May you live in interesting times! They have been interesting for all of us, but yours especially so.

    I rather like the medallion on your glass vase time - love glass, and iris. Heritage varieties much more appealing that modern ones. I wonder who the Jean and Mary were, when they inspired the naming.

    1. They have indeed been interesting... and often a bit boring at the same time, but perhaps that was to be expected.
      I am hoping to grow more of the heritage irises as I love their elegance and am finding them quite vigorous, at least so far. I've been unable to get any information on the original Mary Geddes, and little enough about Jean Cayeux, other than that he presumably must have been "in the family" as the iris was introduced by the French firm Cayeux et LeClerc.

  3. It really is so lovely to have you sharing a vase with us again, Amy, and your knowledge and love of these irises shines through, as does your love nad need for a garden. I am sorry more people haven't read your post yet and been able to reconnect with you.

    Thank you for sharing the impact of your move to the Midwest - for me in the UK it seems astonishing that a region can have the sort of identity you describe, even with the US being such a huge country with a variable history. It shows how strong you and your sister are at heart, having escaped your constrained upbringing only to be faced with the 'lack of kindness and of normal human respect for anyone', leaving you to seek healing and nurturing on your own, despite the baggage of your physical pain. I am so pleased you have been able to retain the hope of a brighter future despite this and that a move back to the Sonoran Desert is imminent. Big hugs xx

    1. Thank you so very much for the kind words, Cathy--it means a great deal! I've been surprised myself at how problematic these regional attitudes are, but I keep reminding myself that it's been much different in other places I have lived. You are right about the need for a garden; I have kept going partly by dreaming of making a new one. And sharing it with my wonderful gardening friends!

  4. So lovely to see you blogging again Amy. What a cute addition to your 'family' ! :-) Wish you lots of luck with the move. Your irises are as beautiful as ever.