The Iris Homicide

It seems that spring has sprung around here. The first California poppy bloom let me know that our orange carpet would soon be arriving.

2018-03-29 11.25.24

They look soft and delicate. But these little suckers withstand miserable heat (up to 115 degrees F.), freezing cold (yes, it freezes in California!), and capricious winds. All they need is a little bit of water and they thrive and spread.


Those pictures are from last year. The crop this year looks to be twice that size.

Poppies spread easily. The seeds are light and the wind will carry them so poppies emerge in strange places.

2017-05-24 10.44.51

Now, to me, poppies and iris go together. Short bright orange against taller green that has magnificent splashes of blues, yellows, whites, and reds.

I love iris. But unlike poppies, they need a little TLC.

They need to be in an area that drains well. They do not like soggy soil. They need sunlight for most of the day. They do not like a lot of shade. They need winter cold. They need to be thinned every year.

The latter chore can be backbreaking as you carefully dig them up and separate the babies from the parent. Then you remix the soil. Then you trim the leaves and cull the plants. Then you get to replant them.

I didn’t do that this year.

I started to. I really did. But then I kept saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow”. It was like dusting to me. It has to be done but not today.

And then…

The spouse comes in the front door and says, “I think there is something wrong with the iris.”

Uh-Oh. The iris were so packed together that the air was not circulating and those poor little iris got a virus. Or a mold. Or some kind of yuck.

I grabbed a shovel (and some gloves) and began digging.

They had grown so much from 2 years of almost decent rain that the roots were more than a foot down. Each plant had grown into the next.

Worst of all, the corms had sunk into the soil and were getting no sunlight. Many, because of the rain and the lack of drainage were moldy.

2018-03-31 15.33.23

I killed them. I confess. It was my fault.

Legally speaking, it wasn’t murder. It wasn’t intentional. It was reckless disregard.

It was manslaughter.

As they lay on the pathway, getting sun and relieved of the pressure of surrounding neighbors, I had a touch of hope.

I could replant them in a better spot! I could give them more sun! I could monitor their living conditions!

I could REVIVE them.

CPR for iris.

They won’t bloom this year. They have trauma to overcome.

But next year.


(In legal terms, this reduces my culpability to iris neglect. The sentence for which is community service in the iris community)



Categories: At home, California, gardening, iris, legal, Uncategorized

1 comment

  1. The irises look OK to me. We have a few California poppies in our England’s New Forest garden. I hope they spread like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

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