Recognizing the tall-tell sign, more green leaves than flowers, I knew it was time to dig in so that next year my irises would bloom more abundantly. As I began the tedious task, I lamented perhaps the landscaper was right, they are a lot of work for seemingly little return. The flowers last only a few days, need daily pruning when they are in bloom and periodic when not, and succumb to overcrowding, requiring annual attention to thin them out and transplant them; the very task I was undertaking.
In a nutshell, they require regular attention and routine maintenance for the yield of a simple flower.
So as I dug and pruned and separated the rhizomes, one at a time, one after another, I did question their value for it would be so much easier to simply dig them up and throw them away, replacing them with plants that flower all season and require much less attention and maintenance. The task seemed never ending, yet the progress was clear and that in and of itself was reason to keep going. Soon, the task was complete, landing me at that decision making point, to replant or replace.
Had I acted on impulse then, I would have chosen to replace. Muscles aching, sweat beading off my brow and the huge task of replanting them ahead were all saying “too much work”, and reminding me of my intention to have more simplicity in life. A glass of water, a nice stretch and a respite from the labor, created doubt that such was the best answer and harkened me back to the reason I had planted them to begin with, the flower. To me, a work of art. Short-lived, yes, but for those few days, beauty.
Remembering the power of both/and, I chose a compromise and planted the bed with a combination of flowering, maintenance free plants, and irises, this time giving them plenty of room and sunshine to realize their full potential of color and blooms, even if only for a few days a year and only if I attend to them. Yes, simplicity is valuable and so is regular attention and routine maintenance. I am striving for the two in harmony.
The truth is I had neglected my irises, thus, the overcrowding that resulted in the diminished blooming. Too much to do? Perhaps. Too much work? Maybe. Benign neglect? Possible. Rationalization that one more year won’t matter? Very possible.
The other truth is that had I chosen not to dig in and allow one more year to go by, the irises would have kept growing, becoming even more crowded, yet in their hardiness they would have produced a few flowers next year, and probably for many years thereafter.
A metaphor for my life and the lives of many in our western culture. We just keep on keeping on, doing what we do and then some, and in spite of the overcrowding we will still produce our own flowers, and say, life is good. And it is. Is it all it can be? Probably not, yet it may be enough. Only when we are ready and the return on investment seems worth it, will we choose to dig in.
Further contemplation led me to look into the symbolism of the iris. Personally, the iris is a reminder of both my mother and grandmother for it was in their gardens that I became an admirer of the flower, and in their homes, the symbol of the fleur-de-lis, a derivative of the iris, was frequently seen. In Greek, iris means rainbow, and in Greek mythology, the goddess Iris wearing her coat of many colors brought messages from heaven to earth by the arc of the rainbow. And then there is the connection to the iris of the eye, the colored disk that is as unique as our fingerprint. Awww, my fondness grows.
It is no longer simply a flower to me, and perhaps it hasn’t been all along, yet unaware why to my conscious mind. Yes, the iris requires regular attention and routine maintenance for its full brilliance to be revealed in the spring of each year. So does the seed of divine potential within you, within me, within all of us.
Visualize a field of irises in their rainbow of colors in full bloom. Visualize a field of human beings, in their rainbow of colors with their divine brilliance awakened living extra ordinary lives. Possible, absolutely.
Just takes a willingness to dig in to see anew, some intentional attention, a bit of sweat equity, and lots of love and care.
Join me. While one flower is beautiful, a field of them in full bloom…beyond beautiful.