Monday, July 3, 2017

A Fond Farewell to Tall Bearded Irises and Other Dreams

By Dawn Mumford

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

This blog is my "goodbye blog". I'm starting with some lyrics sung by Carrie Underwood. The songwriters are Angelo T. Petraglia and Hillary Lee Lindsey.

   Press here to hear Carrie sing the song: 

It is the chorus to that song that really spoke to me:


“I guess it’s going to have to hurt,

 I guess I'm going to have to cry,
And let go of some things I've loved
to get to the other side,
I guess it's going to break me down,

Like falling when you try to fly,
It’s sad but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life,
starts with goodbye”


The following is a bit of my history with the blog, my irises and the reason for making this choice to stop writing this blog.  I’m at the crossroads and I have to make a choice.

I have so many wonderful memories of growing irises and sharing information with other growers. I have had irises in my garden since 1970. The oldest picture I could find to show you is of my irises was in 1974. The quality of the photo is not what we have come to expect with today’s technology.



This is a picture of skinny me showing my third child, Zane, the pretty iris.


This is Zane now as a 44 year old grandfather. 

In 1977 my husband got his first real job as a PhD organic chemist. He was hired to be a rocket scientist by Thiokol. We moved from Sandy, Utah to Brigham City, Utah about 70 miles to the north. We bought a home on about a quarter acre lot and started our iris collection in earnest then. My next door neighbor was already addicted to irises and I caught the bug from her although I had already been dabbling in them. My neighbor and I would order various different irises from Schreiner's and Cooley's and in 2-3 years when we divided them we would share with each other.



Early pictures of the Brigham City garden.



Early pictures of the Brigham City garden.


By the time we moved again in 2005 we had a pretty large  collection. 

In 2000 we bought a piece of property seven miles south of us in Willard.  It was 5 ½ acres and included peach, cherry, apple and plum trees.  It also had unlimited room for irises.  I made my husband promise we would build a house there.  He needed to retire first.


We put three rows of irises in the field but the house was not yet started.  The rows were 75 feet long.



The irises flourished in the orchard soil. It had lots of drainage and other nutrients. 

Intermingled with the iris story is the story of our dream home. In 2003 we started building our dream home. It was the ultimate Do-It-Yourself project.. I did not know how difficult it would be so not knowing any better we took the plunge. We worked on the house eight hours every day except Sunday for 18 months until we finally moved in with the main floor finished on January 5, 2005. Our house in Brigham sold a year later and that is when we brought all the starts that we could find to the new place in Willard.



Digging up the irises from the Brigham City garden took a lot of effort.


Here is a picture of the back of the house before Neal put the rock and stucco on it.

T
This is the back of the house after the rock and stucco were added.


 This is after we had moved all the irises from the yard in Brigham.




The finished courtyard and water feature in 2016.
 

This picture was taken in 2009


As you can see this photo was taken in 2011 when we had been in our home about 6 years.



This picture was taken in the front yard looking through the iris at our house.  It is one of my favorite photographs. 



Another picture of our dream home taken at the golden hour.


People always comment on the mountain backdrop.  It really does make a pretty setting.




These are the 3 peaks that are viewed from the front of our house. Our iris are at elevation 4,329.

In 2010 something happened that drastically changed our hopes and dreams. We had planned on staying in our home for the rest of our lives. As you all know life doesn’t always go as planned. In 2010 my husband was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Neal was only 64 years old at the time. We were stunned. What would we do? How could I possibly watch and help my beloved husband as he slowly lost abilities and memories? Besides that he was the sole person who took care of the 350 trees. There is a saying by Bob Marley that "you don't know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice". Well we kept plugging along for six more years. We finished the basement and all the little things that weren't quite done on the house. We hired a landscaper and a contractor to build a courtyard in the back yard with a water feature and to put in sprinklers and trees, shrubs, and lawn in the back yard. This time we didn't do the work ourselves. We got everything just how we wanted it. Neal still worked in the trees and the irises and I ordered, cataloged, planned color beds etc. for the irises. In 2014 I started writing about irises for the American Iris Society Blog.


We tried to do a lot of things together to enjoy Neal while we could. This is my children and a couple of grandchildren putting together the gazebo.



The courtyard and fountain after they were finished.



Back view from the air looking east.

In 2016, January, I slipped on black ice and broke my right arm up by the shoulder and a fracture about 2 inches down from the socket.  It was a bad break and didn’t heal right so in August I had surgery to repair a rotator cuff and take out bone chips and clean up other damage.  2 ½ weeks later I fell at home and broke my left arm in exactly the same place as my right arm.  Now I was helpless and in two slings.  We stayed with one son and his family for three weeks. I couldn't drive for four months during the 2016 year. We then went to a Senior Living Center into a small cottage where I could heal.  It was there that we realized that life in Willard and our Irises and dream home were too much work for us now.  We decided to put our home up for sale.  It was something we never planned on doing but our 3 kids will be much nearer to us to help if needed. 


Our dream home is currently on the market and we will be looking for something to live in south of Salt Lake probably in Alpine.  We will downsize and hopefully find living a bit easier.  


The finished dream home

Four months ago Neal qualified for Hospice care so a nurse comes in once a week and an aid twice a week to help me.  I am grateful for their support and the support of my children and grandchildren

I am not writing this to whine. We have had so many blessings and have received love and encouragement from family and friends. This blog is just to explain why this will be my last blog for a long while. I guess there are some things more important than irises…but not many.

I am grateful that Renee Frazer and Andi Rivarola asked me to write about Tall Bearded Irises.  Irises have been a joy for us and it has been fun to get to know other iris lovers.  I have worked with many other fine vendors and consider them my friends and appreciate their work in hybridizing and selling their creations. I especially want to thank Phil Williams from Rocky Top Iris Gardens for his words of understanding and encouragement.  They helped more than he will know.  Finally I want to share favorite pictures of irises through the years. 



'Gypsy Lord' Keith Keppel, 2005, Dykes Medal 2015 (Gitano in the background)


'Embrace Me' Robert Van Liere, 2008


'Stairway To Heaven' Larry Lauer, 1992 , Dykes Medal 2000


'Aphrodisiac' Schreiners, 1986.  This was taken at at 6:15 p.m. and so there is more pink color than usual.


'Bravery' Joseph Ghio , 2011. Dramatically beautiful!



'Daughter Of Stars' Donald Spoon, 2000, Bloomed for me in May and again in October and though I didn't document it , I think it bloomed a couple of other months too.


'Happenstance' Keith Keppel, 2000 Perfect!


'Edith Wolford' Ben Hager, 1984, Dykes Medal 1993.  This photograph is probably my favorite that I have ever taken.  It won Runner Up in the photo contest for 2016. I love the light coming through it making it shimmer.


The iris patch with the mountains in the background. This photograph was one of the winners in the photo contest in 2016.  I felt very honored.  


I don't know where we are going to finally settle.  I don't even know if we will have irises anymore.  Paul Auster said goodbye better than I can: "and now we get to the hard part, the endings, the farewells, and the famous last words. if you don't hear from me often, remember that you're in my thoughts.” 


I can't say it any better.  Happy gardening.

47 comments:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful "blog". And for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you and your family. Sue and I also have tragedy in our family and can understand what you are facing. May God bless you and your family and help you through this trying period of your life.

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  2. From all of us here at Schreiner's Iris Gardens, family and staff alike, we wish you healing, happiness and strength. Thank you for all of your colorful and insightful blog posts over the years. Warm regards to you and your family.

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    1. It is wonderful to here from you. Thank you for your kind words. People have told me that I have a mini Shreiner's garden because I have so many that you hybridized. I had purchased 143 that were your hybrids and countless others that were bought from you but created by other hybridizers. You were always great to work with and your rhizomes were high quality. I also was flattered when Tom quoted me in your iris newsletter talking about "Dusky Challenger" I hope you will be in business for years to come. Dawn Mumford

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story. Beautiful irises n house. Wishing u the best n what wonderful memories;)

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  4. Best wishes to u. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. The irises r beautiful n your house too. All the best with family!

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  5. Thank you Dawn for sharing such beautiful memories. Prayers coming your way. You were the first person to introduce yourself to me being from Utah and have shared great experiences with me. I hope the very best for you and your family.

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  6. You created a beautiful home and garden. Something tells me in the next life you'll have that chance again with your whole family. You remain the most talented woman I've ever known. I hope that you can continue an iris blog once things calm down using all your beautiful pictures from you computer. I know you will continue following and commenting on all the iris sites.-Claudia Andersen

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    1. I do hope to be able to write a blog once in a great while. Thank you Claudia.

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  7. Dawn! I think about you and your husband often! prayers and good thoughts coming your way. Thank you for your kindness , friendship and knowledgeable help !!

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    1. You are welcome and it was a pleasure knowing you.

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  8. I love you grandma! Im so grateful for all the amazing memories I'll always have of your beautiful gardens. You inspire me so much.

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    1. You always have been much more beautiful than even my iris.

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  9. Dear Dawn, thank you for sharing your journey, so heartwarming and sincere. Tim and I have followed you on Facebook, AIS publications, and your blog, what a wonderful journey and beautiful memories you must have to reflect on. We admired your beautiful Irises, your orchard, your views and your beautiful home, every tine you started a new project we followed the progress to completion and thought how beautiful your home and surrounds are. Your story however brings us back to reality. Health and family are so important. We wish you and your husband the best of care and thank you most sincerely for sharing your journey with us. Friends in iris Tim and Maria Rosa Taylor

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    1. I am so thankful for all the friends I've made through our common love of irises. I count you among them.

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  10. Oh Dawn, I did not know about your injuries. What a struggle. I have an idea of how difficult giving up your dream is but really can only imagine. After building your home and all you have put into it. I will miss your blogs and wonderful iris pictures. I hope things get easier for you and that you will still be able to have a few iris in your future. Take care of yourself. May your life be filled with Gods tender mercies.

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    1. Thank you Peggy. I really tried not to make my blogs too personal but this felt like the time to do so. Thank you so much for your kind comment.

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  11. Thank you for telling us the story of your beautiful home and garden, Dawn, and for sharing pictures of the results of your hard work. You bring so much beauty into the world, and shared it with all of us on this blog. Although it is sad there will be no new stunning photographs and collages from you, we will return here to look at them again and again. Bless you and Neal and thank you for bringing all of this beauty to us.

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  12. A wonderful story of love and joy. Thank you and cyber hugs.

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  13. Thank you for sharing your heart, my best wishes and prayers to you and your family. I am so terribly sad, what is happening now with you; happens to us all in the end.

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    1. When we meet someone for the first time we should treat them with compassion like they are going through a crisis because they probably are. Thank you Robin

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  14. Thank you so much! You brought a lot of joy to so many lives! Treasure the memories. God bless you!

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  15. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I have loved reading and seeing the beautiful pictures. This brings tears, I am headed down the same lane. Only Father knows the outcome for each of us. May you and your family constantly feel His presence.

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    1. So true. I hope you have the support of professionals and loved ones like I do.

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  16. In the short time I've known you, I've been blessed with your knowledge and kindness, not just for the LIS here in Cache Valley, but to me personally as well. Thank you for all you have done for the world at large, but especially for iris! -Bryan in Hyde Park

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    1. So nice of you to comment Bryan and thank you.

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  17. Thank you for sharing your life and beautiful garden! May the Lord be with you and your family! Greg Lake

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  18. Thank you for sharing so much beauty.

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  19. Thank you for a wonderful blog and for sharing it with us all! I wish you every happiness. I have just ordered Gypsy Lord because you have inspired this iris lover from Down Under with your beautiful photos and moving story. God bless!

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    1. I think that you will love Gypsy Lord like I have. My husband went on a church mission to Australia and loved the people.

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  20. Dawn, thank you so much for sharing so many wonderful images and notes of your beautiful irises, and for giving us a historical overview of your family situation. All the best to you and Neil, and the rest of your loved ones. With gratitude and appreciation. :)

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  21. Dawn, I read your heartfelt and heartbreaking goodbye. I hope it is not goodbye but until later, and you will be back at least once in while, with more thoughts, remembrances and photographs of the wonderful irises you both have grown. Please know your contributions to this blog were well received and much appreciated. Your garden and home look like heaven on earth. I think it would be wonderful if one of the hybrizer's would name an iris Mumford's Way.

    I also want to thank all the writers on this blog for your articles. They are educational, informative and very interesting. Your photographs, especially Susanne's are breathtaking!
    Your blog has helped me get thur many bleak, long winters while I wait for the herald of spring and the blooms of my beloved irises.

    I now grow different kinds of iris and have extended my garden's bloom time thanks to this blog and especially Susanne's articles, and breath taking photographs, on companion plants.

    My irises are done blooming for the year. Your blog will continue to light my way until next season. Thank you again. Your sometimes readers truly appreciate your efforts.
    Best,
    Your loyal reader

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    1. I have been inspired by Susanne's blog and love reading all the others too. There is always something to learn.

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  22. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your memories of the precious years when you and Neal dreamed of your dream home, built the home, planted and relocated and nurtured the iris garden, and were blessed to live your dream together, albeit having to take a 'detour'. So many of us have to take a 'detour' of one kind or another somewhere along the way. Even in the struggles, as you reminisce I am sure you will be the first to say that you have been blessed; and I also know you have blessed many by sharing your journey with us. You and Neal have been good gardeners in God's garden here; you've inspired us with the beauty you have created and nurtured, and your family has been a loving witness to it all. Your 'sharing' has made our world more beautiful in many, many ways as well. With love and thanks...Keeping you and Neal in our prayers.

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    1. Thank you Alice. I wish I could put words together as well as you do. So glad to have known you and your husband.

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  23. My dear, sweet Dawn, this had me in tears from start to finish. I have been to your dream house many times and never tired of you pointing out something that I didn't see on a previous visit, how proud you and Neal are of the house that "MUMFORD'S BUILT'. I loved going out to your Iris beds, taking pictures and taking some starts. Having lunch that you made from your garden. I never tire of looking at the book you gave me of some of your Iris's, nor looking at the beautiful ones you have posted here. I Thank God for your life and for Neal's. The intense pain and difficult emotions that accompany what you are going through may make reaching out difficult for you to ask for support, but please let me know how I can help. I don’t need to have answers or give advice or say and do all the right things. The most important thing I can do for you is to simply be here for you. I love you and love all the times we have spent together over the years.

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    1. Oh my sweet Aunt. You are the most compassionate person I know. Now you are struggling and I can't help you but I send all my love.

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  24. Thank you everyone. The comment to this blog here and on Facebook and even other sites have been so kind. Iris people are good people. As a former writer of these blog the comments are the "Pay Day" for trying to come up with another subject to write about and make it informative. There are a lot of good people out there. Thank you.

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