|Iris Hill at Powell Gardens|
Lots of people grow irises in their yards because they are easy to grow, and they don't need a whole lot of attention. The only thing is that every two or three years, you have to dig up the rhizomes (which are those things in the ground that the leaves grow up from), separate them, and plant them back again.
There are between 260 and 300 species of plants in the Iris genus, but the most common type of iris that people grow is the German bearded iris. The "beard" is that fuzzy part on the petals. It helps with pollination when a bee lands there and rubs off some pollen from another iris. There are many iris hybrids in lots and lots of colors. The only color of iris that people haven't been able to make so far is true red, just like they haven't been able to make a blue rose.
In Greek mythology, Iris was the rainbow personified, and she was also the messenger of the gods. She was one of the goddesses of the sea and sky, and she linked the gods to humanity. Her father was Thaumas, and her mother was the cloud nymph Electra. Zeus sent Iris to the River Styx to bring back water in a ewer for the gods to swear by. Another job she had was to use the water from the River Styx to put everyone to sleep who had perjured themselves.
In case you are wondering what Iris looks like, here's a painting of her that's in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where Mom works. This painting was made by Guy Head, an English painter who lived from 1762 to 1800.
|Iris Carrying the Water of the River Styx to Olympus|
for the Gods to Swear By
Guy Head, ca. 1793
And now, here are pictures of irises that Mom took. She was too lazy to write down the names of the various different types. We don't have any irises in our yard, even though they are Mom's favorite flower. Mom says our yard it too shady for irises because they like to grow in the sun. If we had irises, I could report on whether they are good to eat, but we don't, so I can't. If there are any dogs, cats, bunnies, or deer out there who have sampled this flower, maybe you can leave a comment on my blog and let me know. I hate being in the dark about these things!