The first blooms of summer herald Memorial Day in my memory–clove-scented peony, Dames Rocket, roses…but especially the regal heads of Iris.
Iris are easy to grow and return faithfully each season. They are an old and common standard in Zone 5 gardens, but not to be taken for granted. The glorious heads are orchid-like, vivid and fragile in beauty.
I recall cutting the firm straight stems of iris to decorate the graves of family on Memorial Day, a rather bittersweet first holiday of the season. This ritual is tender in memory but strong in tradition. Like the iris…fragile in flower yet sturdy on the stem…a perennial and stalwart bloom standing sentinel in the early garden.