Volunteers to plant 500 irises in Island Lake
A community horticultural project in Island Lake was so successful last year, organizers are readying for a second round of plantings.
Starting Saturday, volunteers will bury about 500 iris rhizomes -- subterranean stems -- in front of medical offices, restaurants and other businesses along Route 176, the most-traveled road through town.
"I can't think of a better way to share the beautification of our town with others, and hopefully make their day a bit brighter," said village Trustee Sandy Doehler, who developed the project.
In the first planting last October, volunteers put more than 500 iris rhizomes into soil at village hall, in two parks and in other spots. They bloomed this spring, adding splashes of color to those parts of town.
"My favorite spot last year was the flagpole garden right in front of village hall," Doehler said. "We had gorgeous red bearded irises that popped up among the peach and purple varieties."
Doehler was inspired to launch the project by childhood trips to see the tulips growing in Holland, Michigan. The city has millions of tulip plants, and residents and visitors celebrate with a Tulip Time festival every spring.
Doehler would love for the plantings to lead to an annual iris festival in Island Lake.
"Of course, we need a couple of years for our iris population to really take root, but I'm confident that we can make that happen," Doehler said.
The effort doesn't cost village hall a dime. Many of the rhizomes -- as well as iris seeds -- have been donated by local residents and people living elsewhere in the Chicago area.
Some native iris rhizomes have been purchased using grant funds designated for open space projects, Doehler said.
Village Clerk Georgine Cooper, one of the event organizers, loves bringing some botanical beauty to Island Lake.
"Not only do the flowers provide a delightful view, the shared experience of the community and neighbors working together to create it is a wonderful thing to see," Cooper said.
If you want to help plant irises Saturday, gather at 9 a.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave. A second planting session is set for 9 a.m. Nov. 4, also at village hall.
Participants should bring gardening tools and gloves if they own some. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided.
If you can't make it, organizers are encouraging people to plant irises at their homes.
For more information, call Cooper at (847) 416-7858.