‘Rescue Irises’ Now Dazzle With Colors

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 20, 2013

Like a racehorse at the gate, the blue beauty leapt up overnight, desperate to be seen as the grandest of the flowerbed. I hadn’t seen its kind in years.
It bloomed two weeks before the others.
This looks to be a wonderful spring for irises. Last fall I took desperate measures, thinning and moving the tubers, removing weeds and mulch, and even adding some new varieties.
This week they should be in full flower.
The blue beauty had moved with us from Mocksville 14 years ago, but it had been dormant for years, never producing flowers. I had done just about everything wrong. The bed didn’t get enough sun. I had covered the tubers with mulch.
This year, we will have irises in full glory. A Turkeyfoot reader last summer gave me a black iris. I’m eager to see it emerge.
A Winston-Salem legal assistant last week sent a picture of her “rescue irises.” Her mother’s neighbor had dug up his irises and was about to throw them away as trash. She volunteered to take them home. In a new bed under prime conditions, her rescue irises are flowering like mad with dazzling colors.
Irises may be the easiest flower to grow and arguably the most beautiful.
“Leave them alone,” the Turkeyfoot woman told me last summer.
I have listened. I can’t wait to see the colors.

Country music legend George Jones died last week. I interviewed him in 1984 when he sang at a small bar in Madison. We all wondered if “No Show Jones” would really appear. Madison is a long way downhill from Nashville.
After all the big arenas in big cities that he stood up, the Hall of Fame singer did come to a dive bar in a tiny town north of Greensboro, as far off the celebrity path as a big-time name could fall.
Jones played to a full house that night — 200 people couldn’t squeeze inside. His appearance was little advertised. Most didn’t expect Jones to come. Just out of rehab for alcoholism, he didn’t have much stage presence that night, but he got through his routine. He didn’t have much to say to a wide-eyed newspaper reporter from Madison. He didn’t say much to anybody.
He looked like he wanted a drink, maybe several.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today.” That song and Dolly …