A car honked as it passed Thelma’s iris garden in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Thelma and her daughter threw up a hand and chuckled. There goes our pastor who preaches every Sunday for people to bring their hoes and help me weed the iris beds.
This is how I met Thelma. She was sitting on a bucket in the middle of her irises. She greeted me with a delightful twinkle in her eye. She had me summed up before I ever uttered a word. “You like flowers?”, she said. “I’ve got to get these weeds cleared out but that is something not many folks like to do–but I do.”
“That’s a lot of irises Thelma”, I said. “How come you grew so many?”
Thelma—-I needed a hobby.
Me—Have you always grown irises?
Thelma—No, I use to own The Moravian Cookie Shop.
Me—Oh really?, so you used a 200 year old cookie recipe? I’ve heard about that. I descend from the Foltz family. Perhaps we are cousins? Is it the recipe brought to the Moravian settlement from the Foltz/Voltz family?
Thelma—-Yes, that’s the one. So when I retired, I needed a hobby. I started growing a few irises.
Me—Which one is your favorite?
Thelma—I like the bright purple but the white with the ruffled edges is probably my favorite one today. Tomorrow it will be something else.
Me—Thelma I really like being in your iris garden. And I’ve enjoyed talking to you. My neighbors brought me by cause they knew I would love it—and I do. You’ve got a full cart and it’s hot, are you going to take a break?
Me–Thelma, you look cute riding around in your cart and hauling your daisy weeds in the back.
Thelma—I’m over 80 years old and never felt better. Please take all the pictures you want. We love it when the artist come and set up their easel, paintbrushes, and all their paints. They get lost in the sea of color and don’t watch out for my cart. We tell them not to set up right in the middle of the isle as I’m not the cart driver I once was. ( She and her daughter laugh a ton at this little tidbit of info. I can see them replaying an accident in their minds)
Me—Do they grow pretty good in this red dirt? Do you have to water often? What do you use as food?
Thelma—we use bonemeal but that’s about it. We’ve never watered even through last year’s drought. They just love this dirt.
Me–Do you know the names of them all? Are they all priced the same.
Thelma—yes, I know the names of all of them. No, they aren’t priced the same. You have to tell us what you want and then we tell you. We have some on sale that my daughter just dug up.
Me–wow, those are healthy bunches for $2 each. I’ll be back very soon. You sure are generous.
Thelma—we love people and this supports my hobby.
Me—I see your girls have made you a sign. You have a great sense of humor. I’m glad you opened your garden to us flower lovers. Can I come back and video and do another interview with you? I want my readers to hear your delightful voice.
Thelma—yes, you can do a video interview but bring your hoe cause it needs tidying up a bit first. ( to this she laughs and laughs and I grin real big—-because it would be an honor to work beside her. She doesn’t know I’ll show up one day with my hoe , some refreshments, and lots of energy)
Thank you to my sweet neighbors Bob and Almeda for taking me today. I enjoyed your company and nice lunch you bought for me.
To all my readers, I planted some flowers for Bob and Almeda yesterday and this trip was their thank-you. They couldn’t have made me happier. And this iris garden is only minutes from my house. I just never knew about it.
Thank you Thelma! You spread so much sunshine and I’ll be back to learn the names I’ll start with the one below because it’s my favorite.