Shoshana’s Iris

I don’t know the true name of this iris. These plants (or more accurately, their ancestors), were in a small garden along the driveway when we moved into our home in 1985.  I was 25 years-old.  Was I ever that young????

They were nicknamed ‘Shoshana’s iris’ by Pam of Digging.  She dubbed these ‘Shoshana’s’ sometime after my 13 year-old daughter, Shoshana Weintraub suddenly died.  Shoshana died in April 2006 while on a Kealing Middle School band trip to Chicago.

I don’t specifically remember giving Pam any iris, but over the years, I separated them, moved them around and gave them away to many people. I gave some years ago to my mother in Corpus Christi, but the iris didn’t thrive in her sand and humidity.  Several of my neighbors have grown these lovelies in their gardens for years.  And Pam, in turn, has shared them with other gardeners outside my immediate circle.    Diana, of Sharing Nature’s Garden, recently profiled her ‘Shoshana’s iris’ in bloom, given to her by Pam.  So, it’s nice to know they’re out there in the world, blooming. And it’s even sweeter knowing that many gardeners call them ‘Shoshana’s’.  Any opportunity for Shoshana’s name to be spoken in the universe, is a good thing–whether in the guise of a beautiful flower or someone remembering  what a lovely gift my Shoshana was.

The color of this iris is richer than lavender, but not a true purple.  Lilac?  Okay, I’ll go with that, although to me, it is a deeper hue than lilac.  The fragrance is cloyingly sweet, but then, that’s what iris are supposed to smell like.  And it sports the signature ruffles common to iris.

I recall reading in one of Pam’s posts about this iris, and Pam called it “temperamental.”  I never thought of it as that, but it’s true that isn’t showy every year.  I often have a tinge of jealousy when I see another gardener’s ‘Shoshana’s’ blooming well (like Diana’s, this year), when mine are not.  This spring, I had only one stalk, with only four blooms. My other established iris bloomed beautifully, though.  I’ve observed over the years that this iris blooms less frequently than it once did.  Is it because of our generally warmer and drier climate this past decade or so?  Perhaps.  I know that it use to bloom, reliably and prolifically, every spring. Like most iris, it blooms best given more sun, but several of mine are in spots of dappled light to part shade–including the one that bloomed this year.

I enjoy the straps though, throughout the year; they add vertical, evergreen punctuation in clusters throughout my gardens.

Bloom time for this iris has passed, so ‘ll have to wait until next spring, once again hoping that ‘Shoshana’s iris’ will grace my gardens with its large, dramatic blooms.

The name Shoshana means lily in Hebrew.  My Shoshana loved Purple Coneflowers–she thought they were “happy” flowers.  In a little garden atop her grave, surrounded by Texas limestone taken from my garden and accompanying her Texas pink granite headstone, I planted Coneflower and several lilies–some Crinum lilies (unknown name) from my parents’ garden, Oxblood Lily (Rhodophiala bifida) and Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) from my own gardens.

There are no ‘Shoshana’s iris’ on Shoshana’s grave.

11 thoughts on “Shoshana’s Iris

  1. What a lovely, living tribute to your daughter. I will look for these purple beauties to add to my garden.

    P.S. Thanks for your tips on Martha Gonzales Roses! Mine are finally blooming again, after careful deadheading, watering and a dose of Sea Tea (fish emulsion, molasses and compost tea blend).


    • Thank you, Mary. Let’s keep in touch and the next time I divide (which will probably be this year some time), you’re welcome to some. And I’m glad about the Martha Gonzalez blooming again–they’re great roses, they just have their bloom-n-rest cycle and with minimal care, they’re good performers. Speaking of which, I need to deadhead mine!


  2. Thanks for sharing your lovely story of Shoshana’s Iris. It is a mystery why some plants bloom at the appointed time and while others do not. I guess it just makes us appreciate the miracle all the more when it happens.


  3. ‘Shoshana’ was temperamental for me again this year and didn’t bloom. I was sure it would, after the reprieve from the drought we got this winter and spring. Actually, not a single one of my iris bloomed, so who knows? Anyway, like you, I hope for blooms next year. It’s a beautiful iris, and its namesake was a beautiful girl who is missed.


    • Thanks, Pam. I’m sorry you didn’t get any blooms this year–it’s hard when a plant has a specific bloom time and it doesn’t happen. It teaches patience, I suppose. And Shoshana is missed, by us and many others.


  4. Hi,
    I accidentally came across your story when I was looking to see if my daughter might be listed in google. I was so deeply touched by your daughters story and I am so terribly sad for your loss. You see my daughter’s name is Shoshana Ruth also. She was born on April 12, 2005.

    Our Shoshana was named for four great ladies of our family. An elderly cousin who came from the old country in the early 1900’s whose name was Rose Bea, one of my strongest Great Aunts whose name was Beatrice Rose and my favorite Great Aunt Rose. The name Ruth was my husband’s late mother’s name, she died suddenly when he was in high school.

    May your daughter’s name be for a blessing and may her beautiful irises bloom every spring.


    • Thank you, Laura. You chose a lovely name for your daughter. My Shoshana would be 21 this month–yours will be 9 in the Spring. May all her wishes and dreams come true.


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  6. Hello Tina,

    I’m an avid gardener and came across your blog today after visiting The Rabid Gardener’s blog. I wasn’t always a gardener though… I didn’t become interested until 2014. About a year after my 15 year old daughter passed away suddenly. It all started with the planting of a tree in my yard on what would have been her sweet 16th. I just wanted to reach out to you and say hello; those of us who have loved and lost children understand how important it is to one another to read and hear our children’s names. Shoshana is a beautiful name and it’s such a beautiful story that you have shared. The tree that I planted in remembrance of my daughter is a non-fruit bearing Plum with burgundy leaves…they remind me of the color of her hair. My family always refer’s to the tree as “Jaime’s tree” and it is now 6 years old and growing strong and beautiful; Jaime would have turned 22 this past May 29th. Take care and know that our children will never be forgotten..



    • Stefanie, thank you so much for reaching out and I’m very, very sorry for your loss. You’re correct: saying and hearing our children’s names is vital for keeping them in the world.

      I’m glad you took up gardening–it’s a balm to a broken heart. Gardening taps into our creative selves and the learning curve–no matter what your interest is in the wide world of gardening–is a steep one, which allows us challenges and engagement. As well, gardening is a way to touch the future and those of us who’ve buried a child need that reach into the future more than most.

      I’m glad “Jaime’s tree” is thriving and that its strength and beauty gives you and your family pleasure and solace. I love that its foliage color reminds you of Jaime’s hair color–beautiful.

      My Shoshana will be 28 in December; these girls weren’t too far apart in age.

      I wish you and your family strength and peace on this difficult path.

      All the best, Tina


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