Wednesday, May 17 2006      ID: Salem2006051815124814

Iris lovers eagerly await the delicate bloom of the this elegant flower. For some, its beauty makes memories that grow for a lifetime in the hearts of every green thumb and wanna-be gardener.. One common thread weaves Iris stories together; bulbs and stories are something to share.. "Uncle Bill loved flowers, especially Irises," said Stacey Brown of West Salem.

William Harris and his wife Besse, owned Harris Auto Parts in South Salem for 30 years. The auto salvage yard was quite a contrast to his yard full of Irises in South Salem. 

Although Bill Harris passed away in 2003, his love for Iris still blooms in the yard Besse, now 91, enjoys the iris legacy her husband left.

"He always thought it was a big surprise when the Iris would bloom. You just never knew what would come out."  Harris said.  "He grew a lot of flowers, but he loved the Iris the best.  Friends would share cuttings with him, and , and he was quick to give bulbs away."

When the Browns built their home in West Salem, Uncle Bill provided the Iris rhizomes, the tubers from which the plants grow.

Besse Harris, 91 on Friday near an iris that Harris' late husband Bill planted.
Flowers' impact on Keizer-area people grows beyond beauty
"We were totally 'green' on how to plant them."  Brown said.  "we must have put them in upside down.  They came up crooked for many years, looking pretty arthritic, but they kept multiplying."

Now the plants have straightened themselves out and display bright purple and white blooms every year to serve as a reminder of a man who wasn't afraid to stop, plant, smell and share the flowers.