The road ends, but the journey continues...

Yeah, it's a hot summer…

"Luscious Lavender," poem by Annika Perry

“Luscious Lavender,” poem by Annika Perry

A sight for sore eyes, no? Thank you, Annika for giving me permission to share this as part of my little oasis offering to my readers – not that any of it will actually cool us down or offer any solutions to the state of our Global Warming Reality…but, well, we’re all entitled to a break.
While my forays into the medicinal properties of lavender are legendary, pushing the boundaries of application (remember my ‘loaded brownie’ recipe confession?), there is also the purple presence of this flowering herb to consider.
Mary Lou Mawicke Bruno headstone, Ft. Logan

A shortened stem leaning against Ma’s headstone before Dad passed away.

I love purple, it’s refreshing and mysterious all at the same time. It’s also a shared favorite color with my late Ma…
This color has a history with my family, interwoven into the fabric of our lives. Some of those threads include what I named early on as being Bruno’s Purple Giants – irises that were originally planted in our Boulder garden the first spring after we moved there (Fall 1969) and have been in the family ever since. Transplanted clumps bought from the local farm down the road, Long’s Gardens, they took to the earth and exploded into tall stems loaded with hugely fragrant, deeply lavender-purple gems.
As me and my bro grew up, married and moved into homes of our own, tubers were dug, shared and planted with each successive garden.
my flower child michelle

My flower child Michelle (notice unflattened iris stem to right of hat)

One such bed lined the front walk to our first home during our kids’ growing up years where specimens routinely grew taller than a kindergartener. Notice Michelle’s purple slicker? It rained that day back in 1992.
When she came home from school (kindergarten), the normally taller Bruno’s Purple Giants irises were slightly flattened by the intense spring storm…except one battered stem.
My flower child, Michelle, surrounded by a walkway of towering purple delights – yummy memories – and an image oasis for this mom to savor.
Last summer, while finishing the distribution of Dad’s estate and getting Ma & Dad’s house ready to sell, I angsted over a nagging reluctance to give up the remnants of the family tubers which had been growing in a corner of their neglected garden. Because hubby and I have not owned property since selling our home in 2009, it wasn’t in the best interest of those tubers to be dug up and then not transplanted. As much as I wanted to keep with tradition, it just wasn’t feasible.
Wouldn’t you know, my flower child Michelle, now all grown up, came up with a plan. At the end of her trip to meet with us to celebrate Joe’s b-day and help with the cleaning of the house and such, we dug a few up, packed them dry in brown paper bags and buried ‘em in her suitcase. Her thinking being, she could at least plant them at her (and her husband David’s) place in MI to get established there. Given the fact that those poor tubers were disrupted from their normal growth cycle, it was dicey, but worth a try. Imagine, those Bruno’s Purple Giants replanted in yet another family garden and available for us to dig a few for whenever hubby and I do settle into a home of our own with a place to garden.
And that’s another oasis for me to think on – hope is as refreshing as a drink of cool lemonade on a hot summer’s day.


On another note – yes a little pun – please enjoy this classic and appropriate to the theme of this post video, Summer in the City by one of my fav groups* back in the day. It brings back memories of summers in Chicago as a kid growing up before we moved to Boulder…

*for a cool – pun intended – interview with John Sebastian, click here


  1. Marty

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen that video of the ‘Spoonfool. I love the moment when the car horn honks for the musical bridge, and he throws his hands up at the rest of the band. Those are great moments for those sixties bands who were winking back at the fans about their not playing live. 🙂
    Nice to see your daughter paying respect to the traditions that were previously established. A chip off the ‘ol block apparently.
    – Marty

    • laura bruno lilly

      And the thing of it is – John Sebastian was a true multi-instrumentalist…and the whole band was well-seasoned in playing live gigs.
      But yeah, I love it when musicians are having fun like that.

  2. Mary

    My family has a history with iris, too. I would like to have some plants from my Grandparents’ garden, but we have moved too much. I hope you get to plant some iris from your daughter’s garden some day.

    • laura bruno lilly

      So sweet, Zippy.
      I had a neighbor (next door to our home with the walkway of irises) once who had heirloom seeds from her Grandmother’s garden in New Zealand. She wasn’t a gardener, but cherished those seeds. Before she moved away, she left those seeds with me to plant and nurture. I felt honored. Some germinated and some grew…but none really thrived. I think she just needed to know someone cared enough to try – and that someone outside her family knew the story of those heirloom seeds.

  3. Brigid Gallagher

    A beautiful post Laura. I am so glad those purple Iris will create more lovely memories for your family. Priceless.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, garden lady!

  4. Roseanne

    Hi Laura! Just this very morning I was saying I want to put in some Russian sage. It grows to the right height, I like the color, butterflies and bees like it – why not?! Sue said in reply, it stinks. It smells like lavendar – that’s what lavendar smells like. It doesn’t stink!! So, I’m putting in the sage and she can hold her nose when she goes out to water. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      I love Russian Sage…stand your ground!

  5. Deborah Brasket

    A refreshing read! Thank you for this. So much drama and turmoil going on in my own family, it’s nice to read about “normal” and hope we can get back there too someday. Hugs, your flower sister.

    • laura bruno lilly

      So sorry to hear of family turmoil. I am glad my little ‘oasis’ of a post gave you a bit of a break.
      I hope things resolve but in the meantime I also hope you’re able to find a place to be absorbed in the act of creation from time to time. I know you know the healing that can bring…
      hugs back, flower sis.

  6. Jennie Fitzkee

    What a wonderful story, Laura! Thank you!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re welcome, Jennie. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Jill Weatherholt

    Lovely post, Laura. I enjoyed reading about the history in your family. I love purple, too. When I was a little girl I begged my parents to paint my room purple, but they didn’t think it would be good for resale. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Ah yes, resale…I’m wondering how soon after your request was denied that they sold the house?

  8. Robert G Cloud

    A great post Laura, about having a beautiful flower as part of your family history and as flowers go the Iris is one of the most beautiful and strong. An appropriate sign of your genealogy.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh Bob, what an insightful comment. I might just adopt this as a genealogical sign…never thought of it like that before.
      And stay outta that Johnson grass!!

      • Robert G Cloud

        Yep, no more Johnson grass. Done and done. Let the cattle have it.

  9. Annika Perry

    Laura, a beautiful post, filled with love and reflection. Reading this I totally understand your wish to share my lavender poem/photo … thank you so much.
    I’m misty-eyed reading about the iris flowers and their history in your family. I’ve never seen anything like the spectacular pathway of them – absolutely glorious. I’m sure they’ll bloom abundantly in their new home!
    Wishing you cool moments and many icy drinks during your current heatwave! Xx

    • laura bruno lilly

      Again, thank you for the permission and also for your kind words regarding our family’s relationship with those glorious irises. I wish we had a better camera back then – even a phone camera would have brought that pathway back in 1992 into a more vivid focus and purple-ly goodness.
      Take care.

  10. Ally Bean

    hope is as refreshing as a drink of cool lemonade on a hot summer’s day
    Those are words that ring true. Yellow lemonade, purple irises– a timeless color combo that makes me smile. I hope your flowers make it through all the changes they’re going through. I’m pleased to know that you’re making the effort. Great story.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Mmmm, yes, the color combination observation is a great one, Ally.
      I like to think that our ‘effort’ will translate as a nurturing nutrient for those tubers to grow and flourish in middle child’s garden.

  11. Mariss

    May these tubers survive, grow, and flourish in their new garden. The story of these remarkable irises is lovely. (I too have moved irises from one to another garden. Also found that they like growing in spots that contain builder’s rubble. Read this in Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively.)

    • laura bruno lilly

      I think the rocky soil of the Front Range of Colorado does indeed contribute to their happiness and growth.
      Thank you for the good wishes – I’ll let you know how they fare at middle child’s place in MI.

  12. Andy

    I’ve been listening to that song only yesterday on a summer playlist, along with the Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon.
    Now I’m curious about your exploration of lavender-in a medicinal sense.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Heh-heh, let’s just say back in the day, those brownies were legal alternatives….

  13. L. Marie

    Wow! I’ve never seen an iris that large! Giant is right! Lavender is wonderful also. And what a classic song for this hot summer! Whew! The back of my neck feels the way the song describes!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh yeah, that back of the neck thing is so relateable…that’s what makes for good lyrics! Stay cool, L.Marie

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