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A Rainbow of Bearded Iris

Kelly Norris was obsessed with birds in the mid-1990s. He had parakeets at home. He helped initiate the Taylor County Christmas Bird Count. He handed in numerous bird-themed reports to his second-grade teacher — who finally insisted that he find a new topic.

“So I wrote about plants,” he remembers of the focus shift that seemed to him perfectly sensible. By his own admission, Norris’ interest became obsession, and in 2003, at the age of 16, he opened Rainbow Iris Farm in Bedford. Today's visitors can roam through rows of more than 1,000 varieties of iris.

Read “Beyond the Rainbow” (story by Beth Wilson; photography by John Holtorf) in the March/April 2013 issue of The Iowan to learn how a young plantsman grew up to become the new horticulture director at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

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