Posted by: patwogan | August 15, 2008

A Circle of Friendship

My Father was always an avid flower gardener.  When we lived by Glencliff, he was specializing in Iris and Gladiola flowers.  The flower beds were well kept in rows with each variety labeled.  He entered them in competitions and photographed the flowers with the ribbons they were awarded.  I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the hard work that went into this enterprise, but I was old enough to see the joy that it gave my father.  My love of gardening and flowers was nurtured by these early experiences and I have carried on this family tradition, although not on the competitive level.

Iris rhizomes have to be divided to thrive and as Dad divided them, he shared them with his friends and family.  One of the friends he shared with was “Mom” Warnock who was also a gardener, but through necessity her garden was more of the vegetable variety.  Four growing boys required a great deal of fuel and as this was at the height of the depression, everyone raised vegetables to help feed their families.  She did share my father’s love of beauty and the flowers were an inexpensive way of bringing that beauty into her life.  Especially when the plants were freely given.  As her flowers flourished, she also gave the excess rhizomes to her friends and family. 

Many, many years later, I became a teacher and lived and taught in Altamont, Kansas.  I taught First Grade at Altamont Grade School.  We lived on five acres south of Altamont, and I had a flower garden.  The Third Grade teacher, Betty Huffman, was dividing her Iris and asked  me if I would like some for my garden.  I enthusiastically accepted her offer.  She told me she had gotten her first Iris from her Grandmother who lived in Neodesha.  During our conversation she also told me her Grandmother had been given the start of Iris by her sister, Lydia.  Yes, you have guessed it, Lydia Warnock was “Mom” Warnock who had received her Iris rhizomes from my Father. 

I had no idea that Betty and “Mom” Warnock were related, but the circle of friendship started by my father had returned to me in the form of surplus Iris rhizomes.  These Iris were very special to me and I, too, shared the surplus with friends and family to keep the circle going.  Friendhip is like a ripple in water, its circle just keeps growing and may lead to places we would never have imagined and blessings untold.



  1. That gave me chills… what a small world, and how cool is it that the iris she gave you were the “spawn” of Grandpas? My favorite so far!

  2. PS – Would love to hear stories about your present too 😉

  3. I just loved reading this post. I too experience connection and my family history through gardening. My mom passed her love of the garden down to me. I’m still new to it and didn’t know that Iris rhizomes should be split. Now that I know, I’ll be sure to share some with my mom and beyond. Thank you so much!

  4. Lovely story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Wow, what a precious story. A treasure for sure. My passion for gardening comes from both my grandmothers.

    When I finally had a house of my own I was desperate to grow a Dicentra Spectablis (Bleeding Heart) that I remember seeing my grandmother’s garden. It’s too hot here in Texas but I’m almost desperate enough to move back to Colorado just to have this plant, this connection back in my life.

  6. Mom, how cool! I didn’t know about that! Now, tell about Mike falling out of the car . . . 🙂

  7. I loved the story! I too have kept the iris going. I first got them thirty years ago from my husband’s grandmother. Every house I have lived in, I have brought some with me. In fact, on this last move, I dug them up in October and put them in large coffee cans. Moved in February and planted them in the Spring. They are thriving. I too have shared the wealth of the iris.
    Keep writing, I love your stories.


  8. What a beautiful story

  9. What a lovely story! It proves yet again what a small world we live in.

    My father was an avid gardener too. It was one of his great joys in life. He passed away almost 2 years ago and his garden is long gone. A few weeks ago, I found an old bucket in the garage filled with little jars and baggies of tomato and vegetable seeds that he made before he died. As soon as the time is right, I’m going to plant some and see what happens. I blogged about it and Kristen read my post and sent me here. I’m very glad I came!

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