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Nothing speaks May like an iris. (All photos by Audrey Hackett)

Nothing speaks May like an iris. (All photos by Audrey Hackett)

BLOG— Surveying the irises

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During our first spring in the village, my husband and I surveyed irises. We did a lot of walking that spring, and a lot of photographing of horticultural and other details — any small beauty or oddity that caught our eye. But we reserved our most careful and comprehensive attention for irises.

Why irises? If you even need to ask, you’ve obviously never looked at one! And when you do look … that simple term, iris, pinwheels into a hundred radical and subtle variations. That first spring, we documented more than 40 different hues, from white edged in palest lavender to a matte purple so deep (85 percent cocoa deep) we declared it black. The most unusual, to my eye? A deep golden pumpkin iris in a yard on Gardendale Drive. A single huge ruddy-maroon bloom on North Winter Street. A velvety purple and white two-toned iris (like a saddle shoe with an extra kick) outside the library. Okay, I can’t choose just one.

It’s iris season again. There are purple irises blooming against the fence outside Tom’s parking lot. Smoky white and golden yellow irises on Elm Street. And other places, though I can’t pinpoint quite where. Three years ago, I could have. I knew the irises of the village better than the people. And I met a few people through their irises, leaning into — maybe ever so slightly trespassing onto — their yards.

Occasionally there was a person in the yard, hidden by foliage. Oops! Caught casing the irises. But my iris antics drew surprisingly little suspicion. (As a new reader of the police report, I was nervous about showing up there: “Caller reported a suspicious person with camera who claimed to be documenting irises.”) Instead, there were knowing smiles, and several invitations.

“Feel free to come closer. Aren’t they beautiful? We love irises, too.”


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