Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chapter 2 Fun at the Iris Convention

Inspiration comes to a grinding halt

Isn't it disappointing when an inspiration can come to a grinding halt? I was psyched when I penned the first few paragraphs of THE JOURNEY BEGINS. The words I composed seemed to be shot out of a cannon. The words flowed like a river. However, when I was unable to download my special pictures my inspiration began to wane. For several days my story got delayed while I was struggling to master some blogging techniques. Sometimes things can seem so complicated when in reality, they are not.

The good news is I experimented and played with the Google Blogger tools. Most importantly I talked to my capable son, and I finally figured out how to download and size pictures through the Google blogger platform. What a relief to have solved what seemed like such an insurmountable problem. Back to the story at hand with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

You meet the most intersting people on a tour bus

Did I tell you the one about the 82 years young woman that I met while on the Tour bus? We toured several Iris Gardens at the National Iris Convention hosted by the Madison Wi Iris Society. She sat right in front of me. Her name was Venita Faye. Did you ever hear of the name Venita before? I surely hadn't known anyone with that name. It sounds like a derivative of the name Venus, as in Venus De Milo.

We had assigned bus seats for three days of garden tours so the captain could keep track of us. (Like school kids) Venita had a friend named Annette that sat next to her. Annette had a southern drawl that wouldn't quit. She also had a very dry sense of humor; beat you to the punch, too. They were total cut-ups. We had more fun razzing each other. When Venita wanted to tell me something she would reach around her seat, on the isle side and tap my ankles to get my attention. (The bus noise made it hard to hear each other) She did this several times while we were traveling to the next Iris Garden.

To get their attention I would lean up and poke my head between the two seats in front of me. "Ok, I said softly, I am not going to goof off anymore, I will leave you two in peace". I leaned back in my seat, pretending I was sincere; knowing that they didn't believe me one bit. Simple fun. (More to come) Makes you wonder why we don't loosen up and be spontaneous more often. Do you find the time and place to just let go once in a while and be spontaneous?

How many 82 year old women do you know that are as sharp as a tack?

In addition to being very alert and talkative, Venita Faye was very good with her camera. She shared some of her shots of Iris with me, and I told her "Venita, I think the color in your camera is superior to my camera. Any chance I could get a copy of your photos". "Sure, she said enthusiastically; when I get back I will have a friend of mine put them on a disc for you and I will mail them to you". "That would be great, I will give you some money for your expense". I said. "Oh, don't worry about it, we can handle that afterwards", she replied. Well, two weeks after the convention, guess what I got in the mail yesterday? Yep, a CD; a disc with all her pictures on it. I hurriedly downloaded it to check out the color and quality of the pictures. Sure enough, spectacular photos of guest Irises grown specailly for the American Iris Society convention. I will soon begin to display some of her photos as well as mine. Together we probably have over 600 shots. (Some will be duplicates, so I can use the best shots. (Coming soon)

It impressed me that she would go out of her way for a stranger

It touched me that a total stranger (who became my friend on the bus) was willing to have her photos burned to another disc and take the time and effort to package and mail them to me, at her expense. I wanted to thank her in a special way. She she had an Iris hybrid named after her; the Iris is called VENITA FAYE, I thought it would be fun to create a greeting card for her using the flower named for her.

I made a trip to Fed Ex Office to make an original Greeting Card

I downloaded a picture of her Iris on a flash drive, went over to my favorite Fed X Office store and had them create an original Iris card for her. In addition I had an 8x10 of the same flower printed and I plan to frame it and send it to her. As I got home I decided "I have to write my Thank you note to Venita right away." First I had to print my Garden of Deegan logo on the card and that took quite a while to get set up; the margins, etc. Then I had to score the center of the card so I could fold it; all this work before I could put pen in to hand to write some kind thoughts. "No time like the present", I thought. "I have to mail this card to her tomorrow"

In the card, I told her how sweet she was to be willing to send me all her Iris photos. I hope she is surprised when she opens her mail to discover an original greeting card I made for her. In addition I will send her today, under separate cover, a nice 8 X 10 color photograph of her Iris: Venita Faye. It was hybridized by a long time hybridizer named Ken Keppel, He registered the new Iris in 2008.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds it's morning and is refreshed

The above verse is from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. It is amazing how simple things can give you so much joy. It was fun getting the photos from my Texas friend and then enjoyable creating the card. I have to tell you that I left a voice mail for Venita after the CD arrived at my home. She called me back and we talked for several minutes. When I asked her how the weather was, She said, "It's hotter n hell down here; 102 degrees". She just came in from mowing the grass. I said, "What? you are still mowing the grass at your age"? She replied, " Sure, why not, it gives me exercise and I can handle it". I was quite impressed with Venita before, but now I was astonished by her zest for life. Just think, 82 years old, lives alone, does her own chores, flew to Madison Wisconsin by herself and takes time to make others happy.

I want to be that engaged when I am 82. My goal is to live to about 85. Ever think about how long you would like to live? Of course my ideal would be to have the physical health to be pulling weeds at 85. Unless I can be pruning my apple trees and pickig raspberries from my raspberry patch in my 80's I may prefer the Garden in the Sky rather than passing time in a nursing home. That is not a put down of nursing homes; my brother is in a very nice home and receives excellent care from dedicated staff. I just prefer being active. My new Texas friend put it this way (when I told her I was impressed with how rambunctious she was)"Well, you might as well live until you die". I couldn't have said it better.

Ever have something named after you?

Venita's late father was an active member of the American Iris Society and would take her to the annual conventions. Over the years she got to know some of the hybridizers(dedicated plant people who cross pollinate different Irises in order to create new variations) that knew her Dad. One of these hybridizers was Ken Keppel. (See picture above) He became friends with Venita and in 2008 Keppel named one of his new hybrid Tall Bearded Iris after Venita. He named it VENITA FAYE. What a nice tribute to a lovely lady and a warm recognition of a long family friendship.

Just think if you join your local Iris Society you could learn how to hybridize Iris and perhaps name an Iris after one of your loved ones. You have to admit that would be a fairly creative expression of love. Do you remember the poem from the Victorian era poet Elizabeth Barret Browning: How do I love thee? It is worth reading once again: (See Elizabeth's Barret Browning 1806-1861 picture below.)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This poem is certainly one of the most profound expressions of love ever put into words. I dare not seriously add or detract from its exquisite form. For the sake of a point I want to make I think we can speculate that Elizabeth Barret Browning never dreamed in her wild imaginings that one of the ways to love was to name a new flower after her loved one. A hybrid Iris is a 'one of a kind'. Just like a 'sweet love' is one of a kind, so permit me a moment of 'poetic license' and suggest another verse to Elizabeth Barret Browning's poem:

I love thee enough to name my newly fashioned Iris after thee

Now, I confess my line above is at best a feeble attempt to expand the scope of the poem to make a point; while the line above does not have a classic ring to it, will you agree it has a modern ring to it? May I suggest there me be Iris hybridzation in your future. Don't be surprised if you are inclined to name one of your Iris 'offspring' after a dear friend or loved one.

Cross pollination leads to the formation of seed pods

I succeeded in my first attempt at cross pollination this spring (late May) and the seed pods you see above will be ripe within two to three weeks from now. The seed pods must turn brown before the pod starts splitting to release the seeds. Hopefully, I will remove the seeds shortly before nature does it for me. There is a process of what you do with the seeds prior to planting. I will explain this process as the time for seed harvesting approaches.

Any idea if you have a local Iris Society near you?

There is intrigue and adventure in growing and appreciating Iris. If you want to discover if there is a local Iris Society near where you live go to and the American Iris Society web site will come up. You can then look for affiliate Iris Societies by Region and State.

To learn more about what membership can mean to you please go to the following web site: and click on membership. You can also explore the photo gallery to see a treasure trove of beautiful Iris pictures.

This is the website for the North East Ohio Iris society, located near Cleveland, Ohio.I would love to see your comments when you join your local Iris society. It would be great to hear first hand from you what you are learning and how you are enjoying your Iris Society experience.


Anonymous said...

Nice Iris!

Digger said...

Glad you like the Iris. There are many more Iris photographs taken at the Iris Convention that I will show case soon.