"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)|
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.
|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!