[Note from Nan: We’re thrilled to welcome a new Guest Contributor today: Nancy McDonald. Nancy was Managing Editor of the much-missed American Cottage Gardener magazine, and she remains dedicated to cottage gardening and heirloom plants even through the tough winter conditions of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.]
Our town sits at the end of a 25-mile driveway, in the middle of blessed nowhere on the shore of Lake Superior. Built for the lumber industry in the 1880s, it was a boomtown for a couple of decades. When timber played out in the early 1900s, pretty well everyone upped and left. The last train went south, and railroad workers pulled up the tracks behind them.
When the white settlers had come – and especially, I imagine, the women – they brought their favorite flowers with them. I suppose that when they left, they took some away. But you don’t dig a whole clump of irises when you’re packing your trunk, you just tuck in a toe or two, so they left a lot of irises behind. We find them now in fields, at old home sites, in the woods, in forgotten corners, and in gardens.