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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grave Iris!

There are two cemeteries on the farm where I grew up.   One was a Berndt family cemetery which is my last name.   The other is a Bickel family cemetery which is the maiden name of my paternal grandmother.  Most of the graves are of children or teenagers who died of pneumonia around the turn of the century before antibiotics  Each grave is covered with short little irises which will bloom in early may for 2-3 days only.   The flowers are bearded and usually purple or blue.    After some research, I believe that they are Iris Pumila.   These irises originated from Eastern Europe and Russia and were transported by European settlers who used them to cover graves.     I dug some up in the Bickel cemetery. and hauled them to California to plant in my garden.  The funny thing is the I brought them back over a year ago and stuck them in my garage to plant and forgot about them.  I was digging through my garage and found them still in the plastic bag I wrapped them up in and they actually were sprouting.   I was amazed.   It shows how they survived the long trip across the ocean to the midwest.  The rhizomes were very small.  After about 3 weeks, they are starting to sprout.   I have read that they need cold winters to bloom, so I am not sure how well they will do in Southern Califronia.   The planting zones are 4-9 and I am in Zone 9.     Here is a picture of them starting to grow.