"You have to come this week!" Anna Cadd says to me on the opening day of our market back in April. "Everything is blooming! You have to come see irises before they bloom out!" 

It's an opportunity I'm glad I didn't pass up, as Anna Cadd's iris garden is something to behold. Tucked away behind a house on North Street, she breeds an endless variety of iris and other plants in her small, but prolific piece of heaven. There are a dozen or more plots, each chock-full of colorful blooms.

Born and raised in Poland, she assumed she'd be a doctor, but the idea of killing the animals needed to learn dissection was too much for her, so she switched to botany and environmental biology. She became an expert in plant hybridization, hybridizing grain crops, and especially Triticale – the cross between wheat and rye, for animal consumption. Eventually her creations were used in poorer countries all over the world to increase crop yield.
She loved to travel, even taking tour groups to Europe on occasion. She decided to visit an aunt and uncle in Santa Rosa, and once she came to Sonoma County she extended her visa several times, as she didn't want to leave.

At a dinner party hosted by a neighbor in 1990, Anna met David Cadd. According to her hostess, he was meant to be quite shy and quiet, but Anna recalls him talking her ear off...about irises. He was passionate about growing them.

They continued to see each other and ended up getting married after only a three month courtship, while on a quick gambling bus trip to Reno, surprising the Russian friends they were traveling with.

That same year they began breeding and selling iris rhizomes, while both working full time at other jobs. They squeezed in conventions, and farmers' markets, starting ours in 2000. David loved the markets. He adored explaining the varieties and sharing his enthusiasm for their special place among flowers.

Tragically, he got sick in 2010, developing strange cancers most likely caused by his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Anna cared for him until his passing in 2015.

She's kept the business alive, continuing to grow the dozens of different varieties they developed together, harvesting the rhizomes and selling them at the market, along with figs and persimmons from two very prolific trees, and a smattering of other potted plants, such as geraniums and succulents. Her market season generally starts in August and goes into late September or October.

She continues to do conventions, and also iris cultivation trainings. She says she's keeping the business going to honor David. We're so lucky to have this unique and delightful vendor at our market!