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.