Let me tell you about Mrs. Frewert. I never met her, but I know a lot about her. She owned this house before we did, and you can absorb a lot about your home's previous owners just by looking around. In a town like Gilbertsville, you learn via osmosis, too: from older neighbors, from friends, from family members who still live in town. "Which house did you buy?" folks will ask, when we announce we've just moved to town.
I used to say, "Oh, the big gray one across from the Park." Which was usually rewarded with blank stares.
Now I say, "Used to be the Frewerts'." Bingo; immediate recognition.
Mrs. Frewert liked dainty wallpaper, and stained glass, and flower gardening. Above all else, however, she liked bearded irises.
There are bearded irises everywhere. Overgrown, choked with weeds, in full shade where they'll never bloom, in full sun where they bloom like the dickens, clustered around maples in the yard and around outbuildings and birdhouse poles.
I began (slowly) overhauling the flower beds this weekend. Above is the before picture. It's a big job. And, don't get me wrong, I love bearded iris. When they bloomed a couple of weeks ago, the sunny bed along the side of the house resembled a jewel box: tourmaline, topaz, amethyst. Covered in morning dew, they glittered in the sun. But. Enough is enough. I have my own designs for the house's flower beds, and though I love iris, I also understand too much of a good thing. I am relegating the irises to the side of the garage (opposite the compost bin), chopping their huge, knobby rhizomes into neat little chunks, and giving a lot of them away on the side of the road.
You want some?
And then I'll dig out (probably) fifteen years' worth of overgrown weeds, and fill those beds up again with foxglove, coreopsis, cranesbill, coral bells, and lady's mantle. What are your flower bed favorites? Anyone want to send me a pre-paid shipping box to stuff with irises? How about seven? How about seventy?
Updates shall be forthcoming.