'Iris Man' gaining statewide fame

The 'Iris Man' taught at Elmhurst High School for 56 years, and has lived in his house since he was two, but he won't tell a soul how old he is.

Posted: Jun 3, 2018 8:02 PM
Updated: Jun 3, 2018 10:23 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Tucked in the trees just southwest of city limits is a hidden gem-- an iris garden that hundreds of people have come to see. The owner is being called the 'Iris Man' after a recent newspaper article gained attention from Evansville to the Chicago region.

"It's beautiful. It's like walking through a Van Gogh painting," said Anne Jackson.

450 different kinds of irises are placed in 17 rows at 6311 Smith Road. The man behind the irises is Don Goss.

When asked how it feels to know so many people love his flowers he said, "They can't love them more than I do because I've got the work."

The garden was first started in 1941 when Goss' mom was given six plans for her May birthday. The 'Iris Man' taught at Elmhurst High School for 56 years, and has lived in his house since he was two, but he won't tell a soul how old he is.

"That's a game," he said.

The irises are on the list of top 100 irises selected by the American Iris Society. They range in price from 50 cents to $50.00. They also have unique names like, 'Orange Slices,' an iris so popular that Goss said it's sold out.

"For the most part I have tall bearded plants. That means they grow about 30 inches high. I have a few dwarfs, which are about six inches high, and a few intermediates which are about 12 inches high," Goss said.

Goss said he never expected the flowers to stick around this long, and they've taught him that plants last forever, but people go away.

"I thought when my folks died they would take the plants with them, but it didn't happen," he said.

For as long as he can, Goss said his goal will be to share the beautiful garden with even the youngest customers.

"I've never seen this many flowers in one place before,"said Alayna Jacobus, 9.

As long as people show up for the irises, and as long as Goss is in good health, he said he'll be on his porch taking orders. He said it will take until the end of June for the irises to finish blooming, but after that customers can pick up their plants.

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