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Iris

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Name

Iris means "rainbow" in Greek. Garden irises come in a broad spectrum of colours, but cut flower irises are mostly blue, white and yellow like the summer sky.

Colour

Navy, blue, white, yellow and combinations; also browns and lilacs.

Family

Irises belong to the family of Iridaceae, which also includes freesia. Interestingly most of our lovely spring flowers are related to each other, and grow from bulbs or other forms of underground rhizomes (root stocks)! They store their hidden beauty under the earth through the cold months and reveal it suddenly and brilliantly once the new season's warmth appears.

Care tips

Select flowers in bud with colour showing. Keep cool to extend their life.

Availability

Most of the iris varieties are available all year round. For e.g. 'Prof. Blaauw'.

Facts

The popularity of irises over the centuries has been demonstrated in the still life paintings of the Dutch masters, and more recently has inspired Vincent van Gogh.

Mythology

In Greek mythology, Iris is the messenger of the gods who, cloaked in a robe of dewdrops reflecting the stars, communicates messages via the rainbow, the bridge between heaven and earth. The iris is the symbol of communication and the name itself means "rainbow".
Folklore: In some languages, irises are called flags or sword flags, relating them to symbols of heraldry and royalty, hence the original "Fleur de lys" of heraldry. In Japan the shape is seen to express heroism and the blue colour refers to blue blood, so irises play a key role in their spring festival for boys.