La Louve

La Louve
La Louve...Garden of the She-Wolf, Bonnieux, France. La Louve is a private French contemporary garden, open to the public, in the town of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse Department of France. It was created beginning in 1986 by Nicole de Vésian, textile designer for the Paris fashion house of Hermès. It is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.


Iris, how I love thee...

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”  
- Claude Monet

Pacific Coast Hybrid Yellow Iris courtesy of San Marcos Growers, CA.

I once had the very great pleasure of living in a house that came with an heirloom garden that was established by the previous owners, the Urbans. Reverend Urban was a retired Presbyterian minister but had been an amateur horticulturist for much of his life. We moved into the house in the dead of winter and had no idea of what lay in store for us the following Spring....hundreds and hundreds of bearded Iris on a terraced hillside in almost every color of the rainbow! It was a breathtaking sight then, and the images of those glorious flowers lives on in my memory over 30 years later.

White bearded Iris (Better Homes and Gardens)

Not only is the Iris a beautiful and elegant flower, is also bears an ancient lineage. It was the name of the Greek Goddess who guiding the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields, and today Greeks still plant purple Iris on the graves of women. Iris also acted as a messenger between the gods and is personified in the rainbow.

 Indeed the Iris extends back further than the Greek culture. On Minoan ruins that date over three thousand years, Iris can be found planted in the background of aged and faded stucco reliefs. Iris appears in stone at Karnak in Egypt, and Thutmosis III (1504-1450 b.c.) had a garden built near one of his palaces to display the iris he had brought back from campaigns. Examples of the Iris can also be found carved into stone at the temple of Anon.
In France, the Iris is known as the Fleur-de-lis and has long been associated with the country's kings. A old French story tells of King Louis VII having a dream in which he was instructed to adopt the purple Iris as his symbol. Thus the fleur-de-lis became the symbol on the banners of France for nearly six hundred years.

The first bearded Iris of the season in our little courtyard garden.

Like herbs and other fail-safe plants, Iris are easy to grow and spread with ease. And for a very elegant flower, they need little more than a few hours of sun and occasional watering. With a genus of 260-300 species, Iris gets its name is from the Greek word for "rainbow", which refers to the fact that the plant comes in a wide variety of colors. Once called 'flag, it's a mainstay in country gardens, as well as in those glorious Spring bouquets so favored by flower lovers everywhere.


For information on the planting, growing, cultivation and dividing of Iris, consult the American Iris Society or join your local group. You'll never regret it!