While an agenda request to declare an official flower for the city of Waxahachie is new, the nominee iris is actually an old friend.

Long after the gingerbread-clad frame home is history, the hardy irises planted by our forefathers remain, said City Manager Paul Stevens.

“It is a traditional flower you find at abandoned home sites here,” he said.

“You have to think they were planted a long time ago – they certainly stood the test of time if they lasted longer than the house,” he said.

Stevens said he thinks the city council may look with favor on an upcoming agenda item with a proposal from David and Pat Smith to officialize the tall blooms that already dot yards around Waxahachie. It’s a matter of the council adopting a resolution, he said.

“I think it is a good idea. … I would think the council would support it,” Stevens said.

“If I remember correctly, when we became the Crape Myrtle Capital, it was designated by the state.  If they want the iris to just be the city flower, I am sure the council could adopt a resolution stating such,” he said.

Local Master Gardener Susie Braden was one of the first proponents of making the iris the city’s floral emblem. “Miz Myrtle,” as she’s known to Daily Light readers, loves the idea.

“The iris does so well here – it likes our alkali soil, it multiplies rapidly, it requires little care or water and it does need a lot of sunshine,” Braden said. “And they come in many colors, so there should be a color to please anybody.”

A plot to cultivate irises could have an impact on the city’s growth, Braden said.

“If everyone had irises in their front yard, people would come to see them, and maybe even decide to move here,” Braden said.

Waxahachie Mayor Joe Jenkins said he likes the iris. “It’s a very beautiful flower in lots of different colors – I think the idea of having a Waxahachie flower’s good,” he said.

Jenkins said he hopes to see some community consensus, like getting the Ellis County Master Gardeners involved in supporting the movement because of their expertise with local plantings.

“They’re the key … If we did come up with a town plant, I think it should meet all those kind of requirements,” he said, adding that a groundswell of support for the idea would be a good thing.

“It needs to be carefully thought out and have input from other people,” he said. “I don’t know what other ideas might be lurking out there – I’d like to go careful enough to make sure we make the right choice.”

Renda Hickerson is a member of Gardeners Limited and president of the Waxahachie Park Board. She said she likes the idea of giving iris official status.

“I can remember irises having been around since I was a little girl. It was one of the old standbys. People in those days didn’t water lawns or gardens, and the iris will withstand all sorts of abuse,” she said, noting new hybridized varieties’ popularity. “They’re much more beautiful than they used to be,” she said.  

As the official flower, the iris would not be in competition with the Crape Myrtle, she said.

“It’s a no-fail situation, and I think it would be very easy to get people enthused on the introduction of iris,” she said.

David and Pat Smith sent a letter to the Parks and Recreation department asking for the designation to be placed on the city agenda for consideration.

The Smiths attribute the beauty of their prolific iris garden to generous gifts of iris starts from friends and family.

“Not surprisingly, whenever I mention the iris to anyone, 98 percent of the people look away wistfully and almost in a whisper say, ‘Oh, yeah. My grandmother always had irises. In fact, I have some of hers in my garden … ,” David Smith said.

E-mail J. Louise at jlouise.larson@wninews.com.