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  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: OT-bio
  • From: Merrily A Smith <mesm@loc.gov>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Sep 1997 07:00:48 -0600 (MDT)

Hello!  My name is Merrily Smith and I have a small iris garden in Washington, DC.  I first learned to love iris
as a child when one of my jobs was to pick the spent flowers from my mother's iris garden in St. Paul, MN. 
She had over 100 varieties, most of them given to her by her mother, whose garden in New Jersey
abounded with them.  They grew like weeds in the relatively uncultivated prairie soil and the back yard was a
mass of color in the spring.  Each flower had its own particular fragrance, which I loved to sniff.   I remember
the three seasons when she entered stalks in the amateur competition at the local iris show.  We were out
there at the crack of dawn, meticulously inspecting each bloom, cutting the best ones off at the base, and
sticking them in glass milk bottles to transport downtown.  The few ribbons she won in 1957, '58, and '59
only added to the thrill of visiting the show after the judging was done.

That garden is long gone, and only about thirty varieties made it from the old house to a new garden at a new
house in 1965.  These had long quit blooming as encroaching trees and bushes had gradually shut out the
sun and my mother became less able to care for the garden.  About four years ago I decided to try planting
some of these old iris in a garden of my own.  I thought it would be fun to see them blooming again -- sort of
a family tree of flowers.  So far, ten of these historic irises have bloomed, each one a pleasure and a
challenge as my mother (now 84)  and I work together with old garden maps and catalogs to identify them.  
We have spent many wonderful hours on the project, which has enhanced my love of iris even more.  

I'm glad to have discovered kindred souls on the Iris-l and look forward to getting to know you all and to
learning from your experience.  Maybe you can even help me identify names for a few of those frustratingly
similar white flowers.

Merrily Smith
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

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