Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I is for Iris

is for Iris

In Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess 
of the rainbow and messenger of the gods.

In classical legends she traveled the rainbow down to
earth to deliver messages from the gods.

There is a tradition in Greece to plant purple iris
on the graves of women to summon the goddess to
guide the soul of the deceased individual to her heavenly home.

Irises, popular garden flowers,
take their name from this Greek goddess
because of the variety of colors
found within the species.

In Victorian times, an Iris meant
"I have a message for you."

The fleur-de-lys, modeled in the shape of an iris,
 and used by the kings of France as their royal emblem,
has been a symbol of France for centuries.

Digital Image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

Irises, by Van Gogh, was painted in
1889 while at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, France.
One of the first paintings Van Gogh painted
while a patient there, his brother, Theo, immediately 
recognized its quality and submitted it to the
Salon des Indépendants in September 1889.
Today this painting is in the permanent collection of the 
J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

Iris are perennials
that grow from rhizomes.

My iris are mostly "pass along plants" from friends.
I grew up in a family of gardeners,
and it was common practice with my mother
and aunts and their mother before them to divide plants
growing in their gardens and share them with friends
and family who then planted them in their own gardens.

I rather like the tradition!

Beautiful as they are, 
cut iris only last a couple of days.

I usually just enjoy 
them blooming in my garden.

One of my readers, 
wrote to tell me that 
she has these wonderful "pass along" iris 
from her grandmother's garden.
How special is that?
Thanks, Gina, for sharing this beautiful heirloom with us.



The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. We had irises in our garden, when I was a little girl, that were from my grandmother's garden. I think we took some to our first house, but they didn't do well and never came up. I often think of sneaking back into my childhood yard and claiming one of my grandmother's bulbs! Of course I never would, but I have thought about it! ;) Shhh!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I really enjoyed seeing your beautiful iris and hearing about the history and other interesting facts about them. I have several myself and just like you they were pass alongs. I do have a special one that has been passed along through the years that was my great grandmother's iris.
    Thanks so much for sharing such beauty with us.

  3. It's a very beautiful flower and your photos are excellent !

  4. The Iris is such a lovely flower, and it is special to me because my sister has the name. Her eyes were such a deep dark blue they reminded my mother of the flower and that is how she got her name. I love the tradition of passing along cuttings from the gardens. Great information and history on this beautiful addition to any garden. So nice talking to you yesterday, have a great day!

  5. Lovely post- I enjoyed the story! I have a large row of deep purple Iris that came to me from a pass along that I need to pass along to someone else since they need thinning. :-)

  6. Oh, I love your post! The iris is Tennessee's state flower, so when we were newly married and living there I tried my hand at growing them. I love them, especially the purple ones.

  7. I love Irises too Sarah and have them in my side garden...they are a mix of yellow and purple ones given to me by my neighbor years ago!

  8. I don't have any Irises in my garden, Sarah, but I so enjoyed seeing yours. Thank you for all the fun facts on them, also, and for sharing the beautiful painting by Van Gogh...lovely!

  9. Such a pretty post. I did not know this history on Irises. Recently, my family and I went to see U2 and Bono mentioned his Mom who passed away when he was 14 years old. His Mother's name was Iris and the first song he sang was Iris. It was such a beautiful song and tribute to her.

  10. So pretty. And interesting. I love learning a little something in a fun way. I am partial to old fashioned flowers.

  11. Like so many of my neighbours we have yellow irises in our garden, they must have been passed around the village many times during years gone by.
    Lovely post, Sarah.

  12. I love the thought of a pass along garden! Iris's are so pretty. I had some in my yard but none here at the duplex. Maybe next year.

  13. Wonderful post and very elegant photography of the beautiful irises ~ !

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  14. Terrific specimens and loved the Van Gogh inclusion♪

  15. This is such an informative post, Sarah, and very interesting! Iris' are so pretty but I have never grown them. I do love 'pass along' plants, most of the daylily's in my yard are from divisions my sister gave me over 25 years ago.

    Hope you are having a good summer!

    Jane x

  16. Lovely Iris's! We have a lot in our yard, but not near as nice as yours!

  17. Your flowers and photos are gorgeous. I was at the Getty and saw Irises, by Van Gogh. I was not aware it was there. I was so shocked. I had not thought I would actually get to see the real thing. The Getty is a wonderful outing if anyone gets to Los Angeles. The building itself is a work of art, along with the paintings, sculptures, and the gardens. Such a wonderful memory. Thank you.

  18. You always teach me things. I didn't know that the fleur-de-lis was inspired by an iris. We always had irises when my father was living because that was my sister's name. He had some really great specimens, and I left his "pass-alongs" planted all over the Southeast where I lived at various times. Unfortunately I don't have any now. My son took me to The Getty as mentioned in the above comment. It is really spectacular.

  19. Nice blog, I learned from it. I have Iris's also. Thanks for the information. Your Iris's are beautiful especially the yellow one.

  20. I had no idea there is a Greek goddess of the rainbow. Even better that she is symbolized by the iris. I'm like you. I enjoy watching them in the garden.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  21. Such beautiful photos, these take me back to when my grandmother would plant her iris beds, she was always so proud of them in so many colors!!
    I enjoyed seeing your post in the Friday Features Linky Party!! Thanks for sharing!
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  22. These are beautiful! Thanks to you and Gina!

  23. Oh I adore lavender irises. I transplanted a few that my friend has sent me from her garden. I can't wait until they begin blooming.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  24. These and daisies were my mother's favorite. I so wish I had had the sense to get some of HER iris' hoo....

  25. One of the world's most beautiful and intriguing flowers! Your photos are magnificent. My aunt Iris always claimed them as hers -- I would, too!

  26. Sarah, I love the pass along tradition as well. My mom did it and I have been doing it for years. Always sharing and receiving from friends and family. I have Iris in my garden that came from my mother and sisters gardens. The Iris was one of my dear mothers favorite flowers. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  27. Your irises are all beautiful. I especially like the yellow iris and the white frilly one pictured after the pic of the rhizomes. There is so much history in the names of plants, flowers, and trees that gardening itself is only half the joy.

  28. Sarah, your iris are beautiful! I love iris and think they look gorgeous in any garden. They are such an easy plant too, so that is another reason I think they are gems. A beautiful post my dear!

  29. Dear Sarah,
    I love Iris but the snails in my garden love them too. Too much to cultivate them here. So I have a few in pots. But they don't bloom that much than in soil. I have seen in Normandie (France) that the plant dwarf Iris in the top of the reet roofs to keep them dry. I also love th special scent of Iris and have a perfum with that. Sharing plants is here also very common. Its a wonderful tradition. Thank you for this nice post and the pretty pictures.
    All the best, Johanna

  30. Hi Sarah,

    I have a print of Van Gogh's Irises on my bathroom wall. I just love it! Thanks for playing today.

    Enjoy your sister-time.

    Happy Blue Monday!

  31. Here from Blue's a beautiful morning here in West Texas...supposed to reach 98, tho.
    Hope your day is good.

  32. Gorgeous gorgeous blooms Sarah, and I loved all the facts and info you shared about the iris and her history~ great post!

  33. The most elegant of flowers. The blue iris looks like it was made of silk.

  34. What a beautiful blooming post Sarah! I don't have any iris here, I need to correct that. It's sweltering here and dry, I'm getting a work out lugging the the hose hither and yon. We're on a well but there's a limit to how much watering I'll be able to do if we don't get some needed rain and relief from the scorching temperatures.

  35. They are so pretty. I enjoy seeing them out on my walks too.

  36. I love iris. And that top photo was just so intensely beautiful.

    Thank you for linking to the letter I.


  37. Okay, Sarah. Promise not to laugh that I am so late commenting. I told you I had save all of these post notices because I didn't want to miss a single one. We will consider this "better late than never".

    Your irises are stunning. There is just something so exquisite about an iris. Ours are all shared from others, too. And, they are just beginning to bud now. We will have blooms soon.

    Happy Pink Saturday, my friend. Thank you for always sharing and for your support, too.♥


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