It was free iris (and a little cactus) day today at the Lissa Heineman Garden and Art Emporium.
The garden, a project of 20-plus years’ duration, has come to be Lissa’s best work of art (at least that’s what I think), a constantly evolving thing that is great in part because it will never be done. The purple iris (and maybe a few brown ones you can’t see here) are the only remnants of the landscaping we inherited when we bought the house in 1993. They started as a clump of maybe a dozen, living off to the left of this picture where the cholla and some other cacti dominate a mound. Lissa’s been separating and spreading the iris out for years, and culling extras that she puts in bags on the sidewalk. Their offspring are all over the neighborhood now.
The color is wonderful at bloom time, but it shifts through the seasons and is always lovely. Like the rules that constrain a haiku, our attitudes toward water use place boundaries that influence its direction, and the color palette of the desert is an integral part of the piece – both the desert colors of the soil and cactus, and the counterpoints of the small wetter bits that Lissa arranges within it.
It’s sculptural, with the great forms of three piñon of varying sizes and the wonderful mass of the cactus, but a tendentious physicality – more within Lissa’s influence than control, which is part of what makes watching her relationship with this particular piece of art so enchanting.
Free iris today was fun, with neighbors and visitors to a garage sale across the street grabbing them up as fast as I could bag up Lissa’s culls and put them out on the sidewalk. The audience loves this work of art, and the bags give them a chance to join in.