African Iris and the Modern-Day Hippie Vibe

We have African Iris plants growing all over the property. There are quite a few bordering the driveway, several under the Eucalyptus trees growing in the front, a large one in the center of our daisy patch, a gigantic one growing next to the house (where we intend to put a concrete walkway and eventually a wrap-around deck) and two more large ones we just removed from the back, where we are placing our greenhouse and creating an outdoor recreation space.

Richard told me the iris was a gift from the old neighbors, who had left well before I moved in. I think the iris plants are beautiful when they are healthy, but it has been very difficult to keep ours flowering. African Iris will stay green and flower year-round after it has been established in the ground for a couple of years. The flowers do not stay long, but there are often many flowering at the same time. I’ve noticed that these plants never really seem as happy as the rest of our plants and shrubs. They love water–a lot of water. While researching these plants, I discovered that they are an ideal plant for water gardens because they love wet soil so much. Living where we do, on the central coast of California, we suffer from drought conditions most of the time and often have water restrictions. This makes it difficult to justify pouring so much onto these plants just so we can enjoy their flowers. This is especially true when we have so many other kinds of plants that require less water and are prettier to look at.

So, we decided to dig up the African Iris plants in the back and on the side of the house. Rather than rehome them to a different part of the property, we put an ad out to find someone who wanted to give these plants a new home and the attention they need to thrive. When I say the plants we removed were huge, I mean they were gigantic. It took a lot of muscle and some silent cursing to pull them out. First, we shoveled a trench around the iris to expose the roots. It was not a large trench, but it was a necessary one. Then Richard and I used a big pickaxe to split the plant up piece by piece and get it up out of the ground. The biggest iris we had in the back took up about 16 square feet of space and was about 4 feet tall.

It looks small, but this was a huge iris, four feet in diameter and over four feet tall. The picture on the left is before, and the right is after.

Someone answered our freebie ad on Craigslist and came to pick up the second one we dug up this afternoon. A lot of people do not consider placing freebie ads for things they no longer need or want. It’s easier to just discard things. I took that approach throughout much of my life, but living in California has changed the way I think and act in numerous ways. There is a modern-day hippie vibe in the air here, and it is something that I think makes this state a very special place to be. It is very different from the vibe where I grew up in the Midwest. In California, there is more concern for the environment and a visionary determination to try and make the world a better place. Richard has a hard time throwing anything away, and from him, I have learned more about repurposing or trying to find a good home for some of the things I would initially tossed in the trash. We make compromises, and even he agrees that there’s a fine line between farmhouse repurposing and having a garden that looks like a dumpsite.

Packed up and ready to go to their new home.

We were very happy these irises found someone who wanted some new garden plants to care for, and hope they bring the couple who took them much joy. Purchasing this amount of Iris from Home Depot at $20 a pot, would have cost them close to $1,000. We still have plenty of it growing happily throughout the property, and one final mega-giant that still needs to be dug up.

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