Paula, left, and Joyce Freitag
of Country Flower Garden in Rixeyville plant irises in the front yard of The Burgandine House Monday morning. (Staff Photo, Vincent Vala)
"It's where they belong - this is their home," said Joyce Freitag
, who transported the green stalks from Country Flower Garden - her
family-owned nursery in Rixeyville - to plant them out front at the historic house on Main Street.
For the past three years she's
nurtured the blue and white perennials in her
garden, but always felt - because of their age - that the irises should be replanted near the one-room colonial cabin, located next to the Museum of Culpeper History
, 47, first got the hearty flowers from a friend/grower in Winchester, who salvaged the plants from the grounds of an old estate elsewhere.
"They come from old historical homesteads that are going to be destroyed and that's how we date them - from the homes," she
said, also mentioning that the very old, and therefore rare, irises have been grown through the years with the same distinguishing plant labels.
"These are plants, like the peonies at Monticello, that have been around for years and years.They just hang in there; that's why we're preserving them because they're so tough.They've held out for all these years - why let them go now?"
Some of the perennials originated in England, she
said, and others - like Van Gogh's famed irises - in France.Freitag, a longtime member of the Historic Iris Preservation Society, raises day lilies, irises and peonies at Country Flower Garden, which opens to the public this weekend.
The Burgandine House irises are of several varieties, she
said, and will bloom in different combinations of cream and blue come next May.
Until then, she
recommended, leave them alone.
For healthy living, irises like about a half-day of sun, said Freitag
, and require special care when planting.
"They like their little tummies up to the sun," she
said, stressing that careful attention must be paid to the placement in the ground of the rhizome, the thick root of the iris."I always say, for a $5 plant, you've got to make a $10 hole.That's your major job."
In addition, too much fertilizer can cause the roots to rot, said Freitag
.Though perhaps a bit nervously, she
added, the transplanted irises would be "perfectly fine planted in front of the Burgandine House."Paula, her
16-year-old daughter, agreed.