Leonard Woolf & Planting Iris

Planting Iris

I liked this post from Austin Kleon so much I’m stealing it. Hopefully like an artist, and not like a scoundrel. Nowadays, my equivalent of planting iris might even be to… plant iris. I love their wonderfully deep colour.

Whilst definitely not a gardener, as I have got older I have found myself paying much more attention to what is around me. Finding myself better able to appreciate what I have, what is there in front of me, rather than always longing to be somewhere else, for something else. And since I am now living on a farm, that means taking an interest in the countryside around me, from the muddy ditch and frost in winter to the hedgerow of wild flowers and beyond. Whether city walking or country walking, both give you the time to pay attention, to notice.

The quote is from Downhill All The Way, Leonard Woolf’s autobiography of the years 1919-1939. The passage in full  –

I will end… with a little scene that took place in the last months of peace. They were the most terrible months of my life, for, helplessly and hopelessly, one watched the inevitable approach of war. One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler—the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers… Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window: “Hitler is making a speech.” I shouted back, “I shan’t come. I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.” Last March, twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard.