Mold, crown rot, and tangles of Bermuda grass was the unwelcome sight I beheld as I got back from a long trip and opened the eight bags of irises dug by a friend’s neighbor. She didn’t want them anymore, but neither did my friend.
It was not the best timing. We were leaving town within hours, but of course I couldn’t bear to let them go in the trash. I suspected that the lack of proper preparation and handling would doom many of the roots to that fate, anyway. My fears were confirmed upon our return. It was a mess!
I quickly got to work putting the Bermuda roots and shoots into a trash bag, never to see the light of another day in any garden. Any soft or mushy rhizomes joined the invasive grass in the bag.
There were some rhizomes that had already sprouted new growth, and had fresh feeder roots, but were covered on one or more edges with the telltale cottony white that indicated mold growth.
Oh, no; that would never do. Especially the ones that would go into a box to send to a friend who needed to replace her lost irises. Moldy rhizomes would turn into diseased rhizomes, and rot would set in.
Then there was the added contamination of the rotted ones at the bottom of each bag. That would surely spread if it were not treated. I had lost too many beautiful irises during a wet spring two years ago, and knew that these roots needed to be cleansed.
Two large buckets were set up beside my work area, in which a bleach solution was placed. Putting on my old painting clothes, I set about dunking the good roots into the sterilizing liquid. As each potential plant was transferred into the bucket, the rotten and slimy parts were pulled off and discarded.
Gently washing off the white mold, I processed the worst of the roots, and then spread them out to dry in the shade.
Isn’t it wonderful how our Creator gives us directions for cleansing ourselves from the rottenness of the world? He surely cleans us up as gently and lovingly as a gardener would do with a favorite plant.
I don’t know which roots will turn into what color or kind of iris, as the original owner didn’t label them. The potential for great beauty and fragrance was enough motivation for all the hard work.
But God knows, even as he washes us, just what we will turn out to be. The beautiful thing is that he has provided for our cleansing no matter what the outcome!
Let’s make it a joy for our Father, and not a disappointment.
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:9-11, NKJV).
Christine (Tina) Berglund
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