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RoxAnn Karkhoff-Schweizer has been tending several of the church’s flower beds for several years. This summer she decided to do something extra special and plant irises developed by member Carl Jorgensen when he was a horticulturalist at Colorado State University.

RoxAnn went to Phil Phelan, a manager at Jordan’s Floral Gardens in Fort Collins. He had worked with Carl and thought he might be able to find bulbs. Last summer (2014), he did! The irises that have been blooming in the brick planter by the north entrance are Carl’s hybrids “Summit Sol,” “Summit Snow” and “Summit Sunrise.”

RoxAnn asked Phil to provide a little background on how he knows Carl and where he found the irises. Here's what Phil shared:

I first met Carl in 1988 as he was tending his Iris gardens which were located just SouthWest of the Hilton on Prospect. For many wonderful years I assisted him in caring and breeding his irises, poppies and daylilies. Visiting the gardens in bloom was a yearly ritual for locals and garden clubs who knew about it and Carl always enjoyed showing it off.

For years Carl had placed many of his iris varieties at Longs Gardens in Boulder, which has a large collection of irises to sell. I contacted them and they provided a few of the remaining varieties that they had.

As you know, Carl is a retired CSU Horticulture Professor and had extensive knowledge spanning fruits, greenhouses and trees both locally and globally. Carl was instrumental in developing the city of Fort Collins’ Forestry Department and has his hand in many of the older tree plantings around town.

Carl is also an outstanding watercolor artist capturing many flowers and landscapes from his travels around the world. We developed a friendship that lasts to this day and I count myself lucky to have gotten to know him and appreciate his many talents and contributions! Phil Phelan

Thanks to Phil for finding these flowers for us to enjoy and to RoxAnn for the idea and follow-up!

RoxAnn Karkhoff-Schweizer has been Saint John's gardener for the last few years. She generously volunteers her time to tend many of the flower beds around the church and the the interior plants (those that aren't artificial, of course).