Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The garden with its little gate of green, Invites you to enter, and view mysteries unseen, Its vine laden bowers and overhanging trees, The air filled with sweetness, the hum of the bees, The flagged walks with Iris galore, Of most beautiful coloring, unknown before, Pink, white, purple, yellow, azure blue, Mixed and mingled of every hue, You come away wondering, can more beauty be seen Than in the garden with its little gate of green. ~ Winstead.

This post celebrates the bearded iris.  They are an incredible plant, a contradiction in every way.  Their blooms are like the finest silk, almost transparent and easily damaged.  The plant itself is cast iron.  It withstands abuse, can be dug and left unplanted  for weeks, even months.  It ignores bitter cold winters, hot dry summers, withstands drought and monsoon rains.  It tolerates neglect, crowding by other plants, weeds and grasses. Iris are often found at abandoned farm and home sites long after other plants have given up and died.   

A little iris history:  The iris is named for the mythological Greek goddess of the rainbow.  The oldest known painting of an iris dates back to 2100 B.C. Crete. The iris form inspired the French fleur de lys which was the symbol on the French flag until the revolution and is still the symbol on the Quebec flag.  Iris grow anywhere in North America.

Driving the rural roads of northern Illinois, I hardly ever find an old farmhouse that does not have a bed of this beloved plant in the dooryard.  Modern families also love the iris and find a place for a collection of plants somewhere in their yards.  

Apparently the bearded iris hybridize easily and now can be found in the most exquisite combinations of colors.  

 Here are some a lot of photos of iris belonging to me, my relatives, friends and neighbors: