Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, February 4, 2011

There are plants that capture our attention and never lose it.

A classic beauty Iris germanica

This bearded Iris is one of them.

Which might be surprising coming from a native plant enthusiast.

I met them when I was about 7 years old. A friend invited me to her house to play after school. They had a big sunny front yard filled with old fashioned flowers. The garden was being tended by her grandmother; a serious woman with the most amazing silver blue hair. She was very kind to an inquisitive little girl who peppered her with questions about the tall purple flower that smelled exactly like grape soda. She let me walk across the lawn to touch and smell the flowers I now know were German Iris.
Iris with Columbine, Shooting Star, Golden Ragwort and Foam Flower

To this day, their scent evokes the sweetest memories of kind friends, sunny gardens and silvery blue haired gardeners. Their tall form and rich lilac flowers fit nicely with my dear wildflower friends.

They are beautiful and smell luscious. Let's try something.

Imagine a warm spring day.
The birds are singing just over your shoulder.
There is a hint of sweetness in the air.
You feel the irresistible urge to move closer,
to find it.
It's right over there.
Tantalizingly sweet.
You are so close that you can see the beard,
touch the velvet petals and,
it smells delicious.
Just like grape soda.

Tell me, is there a plant that has captured your attention and never lost it?


This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011. This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I grant you prior permission to use my feed and quotes of 100 words or less as long as you give credit. Other than those two things, if you want to use my stuff, just ask me. Really, I am a nice person if you just ask. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. What a tonic, dear Gail, thanks for these wonderful photos and for sharing a joyful and happy memory! I love all the flowers, but the ones with a sweet fragrance that you can stick your face into and take a deep whiff might hold my heart the tightest. :-)

  2. These photos gave me the perfect shot of sunshine that I was craving this morning. Wow!

    I know so little about irises..didn't even know they were fragrant. Grape soda? Now that's a yummy thought.

    I had a lovely, wonderful grandmother with silver/blue hair. Miss her.


  3. Just like grape soda - perfect! Interesting how powerful are those childhood imprints - a Texas childhood left me with a deep and unrealistic affection for camellias. Beautiful images of flowers that happen to be the perfect color: purple!

  4. I think any flower that captures a childhood memory deserves to be in your garden. My childhood flower is the woodland violet, I love them. Finally had some in my garden in VA, now I will have to get some into this SC garden.

  5. Another native plant enthusiast here who loves bearded iris, especially ones that are old-fashioned and fragrant. You have a gorgeous iris display in your garden.

  6. What a lovely post, Gail! I love bearded iris but they just can't take my heat. I grow Louisiana Iris instead and enjoy the beautiful purple and white beardeds I see on visits to Austin each spring!

  7. What a beautiful post Gail. Colourful, romantic, and soul lifting. I must confess I also have a love of iris germanica.

    My true love is the hellebore. I love the way the flowers hang.....as if they are a little too shy to show their faces. To gently hold one and lift the bloom, does it for me everytime.
    Their beauty, for me, is beyond words. I can never have too many hellebores.......

    Have a lovely weekend Gail

  8. I love these old fashioned flowers too Gail. I think the reason why I have so many hydrangeas in my garden is because when I was a small child our neighbor had a row of these shrubs on one side of their garden. I was small enough I could hide amongst them. When I would go into these shrubs I could pretend I was in so many different places and it was great fun watching my family look for me. Ha.. naughty, I know but fun none the less. I can't quite hide behind them any more but I still enjoy those beautiful big mopheads and really any others for that matter. Have a great weekend. And thanks for bringing some warm thoughts into this cold atmosphere.

  9. Gail, you've given me a moment of colour, scent and memories of my dad and grandmother (of the dark blue tint and fabulous fucshia nails). It's all ice and snow here at the moment - I crave the colour yellow - both in the leaves and flowers. My memory flower today is my hepatica - the moment I see it bloom, I know that spring is truly on its way.

  10. Gail, When I was a kid I fed bearded iris to the neighbor's lonely horse who hung his head over the fence, looking hungry. He apparently wasn't enamored with the taste because he reared up and caterwauled and scared the daylights out of me. I ran home and never told a soul about it for fear that the horse would die. I still laugh when I think of the story. Your bearded iris are just fabulous!!

  11. I love all things iris and have a post I just finished yesterday in the queu waiting for later this month to publish...love the bearded iris pics...I also love coneflowers and columbines...

  12. Your photos sure caught my attention. This is the year that I am going to do more with irises.

  13. When I was about 10, my parents let me have my own garden behind the house, and bearded iris were the first things planted.

  14. I feel that way about a lot of flowers, but wintersweet pops into my head first of all. We had one at a house I grew up in and I couldn't help but focus on the only plant blooming during the cold months.

    Plus, like you, I am particularly attached to bearded iris ever since I petted their furry throats in my grandmother's garden. Unlike her I found it delightful when the petals fell off a bouquet and stained the furniture.

  15. I firmly believe that there is an unconscious desire in gardeners to recreate the garden of our childhood. We want to be taken back in some way to that time when we were surrounded by plants that seemed huge and to go on forever.
    I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by the native woodland wildflowers. It's hard to choose, but I can narrow it down to three: Dodecatheon media, Podophyllum peltatum, and Arisaema triphyllum.

  16. These are quite tall...I adore them. I have ones that smell like root beer.....love them all!

  17. Gail, The light in your wonderful Iris photographs is so warm and magical . . . an elixir to a spirit surrounded by cold and bright white landscapes. Truly fabulous photos and flowers and I too love those lovely beards. Sweet memories to go with your garden subjects . . . thank you for sharing those days, when you might have been closer to the petals without bending over. ;>)

  18. Your iris photographs are amazing! I love the one showing the combination with columbine, shooting star, ragwort, and foam flower! Your garden is truly special.

    The flower that captured my heart? There are many, but columbine is at the top of the list.

  19. I love Iris, and thank you for the much needed burst of colour. For me the flowers I have re-connected with that are childhood friends are snapdragons! My Nan used to grow them in her front garden, and I have wonderful memories of playing there as a child and making the flowers "talk". They give me a grin of delight now, as an adult, remembering those days. I still can't resist making them talk. No scent though...

  20. They are beautiful flowers and always look exotic even in their natural setting. Unfortunately I have never tasted grape soda so will smell the next Iris with that drink in mind :-)

  21. That's one iris I've never had...sure is pretty.
    Do have Siberian iries and love them. Think I need more gardens :)

  22. I love how well irises complement natives! I am hoping my Siberian irises bloom this year.

  23. What beautiful photos of beautiful flowers. I remember not liking the fragrance of irises when I was a child, but maybe it was the beige/brown variety. I didn't like the colors either. It is peonies that I loved as a child - big, pink, frilly and with a fragrance I did like.

  24. They're so different than most other flowers, and so beautiful.

    So many plants have captured my attention and never lost it - impossible to list them all I think! Phlox and bleeding hearts were among the first blooming plants to capture my attention and never lose it.


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