I was 44 years young when I learned that some irises smell. Wow. I try not to get all butt hurt at the stuff I missed out on when I was clueless to the joys around me!
I put out a call to my neighbors for additions to Gay Gardens–the container garden I have been developing with great assistance since I moved into my RV on a gravel lot. You can dress up gravel pretty well with flower pots and I have been gathering them for three years. My mom helped get me started and sustains me with soil, friends have mailed seeds, I’ve inherited pots and decor from women who passed away or moved, some of the women in our wood shop made me a labrys and some triangles I painted pink and hang upside down. I have not gone one summer without being handed some fresh rainbow flags to fly.
Becky the botanist invited me over for medicinal herb additions to my collection and she suggested I smell her neighbor Donna’s irises. “They smell like grape kool aid.”
I never knew that irises could emit a smell! To me as an 80s kid I think it’s more of a Bonnie Bell lip smacker scent, kind of cloying and sweet.
When I was a young attorney I didn’t make time to appreciate nature. Rushing around I barely noticed anything other than the drama of fall leaves. As I’ve slowed down, settled my nervous system and realized how life sustaining a daily couple hours in nature can be I’ve changed my priorities to align my life with more joy.
I only ever knew Irises for their strong purple presence in late Spring, and grieved their shriveled departure. It’s hard to love something that we know is so temporary and I’m getting better at being in the moment of a seasonal bloom, enjoying the present moment delight and trusting their return. Instead of seeing something and feeling so sad that it will be gone soon. (My personality can really go to the foreboding joy place fast.)
Becky, forever enhancing the depth of my understanding of the natural world and especially the forest we share on our land, told me not all irises smell but some do.
I embarked on what has become a delightful addition to my daily sunset walk. You miss 100% of the good scents you don’t try for. It’s a fun game!
Almost like scratch n sniff stickers! The scent and color of flowers is evolutionarily part of their attracting their needed pollinators. I feel like a pollinator now sticking my nose into many flowers to find the ones who smell awesome.
Sniffing flowers is less than five minutes of my day but I think it’s sacred to spend any amount of your life with 100% pure present moment in the pleasures that delight you.
Our desires are holy information bringing forth a powerful future collectively, and it’s important to notice them and indulge them when we are able to. Being on a flower sniffing mission has brought a lot of joy to me this past month.
The land I live on is jointly owned by a bunch of leaseholders (think an NYC co-op apartment building but forest land in so-called* Washington) and I have appreciated all the work the various women owners have invested over the past 30 years. Planting bulbs you may never sniff and many might overlook, I recently learned that metaphysically the act of sowing seeds is joy inducing, regardless of the outcome.
I never realized how many different irises grew by our community office thanks to all of the women who put it all together. That was a fun jaunt realizing I had six types to sniff. Three gave me something! Thank you previous and current leaseholders who did that labor so that my daily walks could have more olfactory delight!
I found that the darker purple irises tend to smell the most but the magenta ones also have a less cloying but definitely sweet scent. In my visit to my friend Ian’s garden in Port Townsend I sniffed all the irises and found two that smelled! One was lavender!
If the irises are already spent where you live might I suggest the more traditional sniffing of roses? If you want to share your passion for flowers send me a pic of your favorite kind to sniff at fatkiddanceparty at gmail dot com I would love to hear about it!
*Just because some white guys with guns said it was called that?
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