ancient myth, Iris, the sister of the harpies and goddess of the storm,
was represented by the rainbow. She was as swift as the wind, had wings
of gold, and was employed by Juno for her especial messenger, as
Mercury was the messenger of Jupiter. She carried messages unto the ends
of the earth and even into the depths of the sea. By some of the Greek
poets she is called a virgin goddess. One day the flowers all assembled
at the invitation of Juno to celebrate the birthday of Iris. They all
came in their prettiest dresses and were having a fine time when three
new sister flowers were seen approaching, dressed in gowns of red,
yellow, and purple, and wearing gorgeous jewels, but no one knew who
they were. As they were without names, they were christened Iris,
because they wore the colors of the rainbow, and thus it is that they
bear the name of the messenger of the gods. ~K.M. Beals, Flower Lore
Blooming now in my zone 9 inland southern California garden.....reblooming iris 'Rosalie Figge' a tall bearded iris cultivar registered in 1993 by Jane McKnew. This cultivar has been awarded Honorable Mention and Award of Merit.
Schreiner's Iris Gardens catalog description: This dark reddish violet self, a child of Dyke's Medallist Titan's
Glory, offers great growth and bloom habits. Its moderately sized
flowers have a slight ruffle and are completely saturated in dark
reddish purple. Enjoy their sweet fragrance in the spring and then again
in the summer and fall.
From White Flower Farm catalog description:
Named for a former president of the American Iris Society, so you know
this one must be special. 'Rosalie Figge' is a subtle interplay of
purple and violet, is fragrant, and reblooms well.
In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As the sun unites Earth and heaven, Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, Iris is the daughter of Thaumas and the cloud nymph Electra. Her sisters are the Harpies; Aello, Celaeno and Ocypete.
Iris is frequently mentioned as a divine messenger in the Iliad which is attributed to Homer, but does not appear in his Odyssey, where Hermes fills that role. Like Hermes, Iris carries a caduceus or winged staff. By command of Zeus, the king of the gods, she carries an ewer of water from the River Styx, with which she puts to sleep all who perjure themselves. Goddess of sea and sky, she is also represented as supplying the clouds with the water needed to deluge the world, consistent with her identification with the rainbow.
According to Apollonius Rhodius, Iris turned back the Argonauts Zetes and Calais who had pursued the Harpies to the Strophades ('Islands of Turning'). (This eventful 'turning' may have resulted in the islands' name. The brothers had driven off the monsters from their torment of the prophet Phineus, but did not kill them upon the request of Iris, who promised that Phineas would not be bothered by the Harpies again.
Iris is married to Zephyrus, who is the god of the west wind. Their son is Pothos (Nonnus, Dionysiaca). According to the Dionysiaca of Nonnos, Iris' brother is Hydaspes (book XXVI, lines 355-365).
In Euripides' play Heracles, Iris appears alongside Lyssa, cursing Heracles with the fit of madness in which he kills his three sons and his wife Megara. In some records she is a sororal twin to the Titaness Arke (arch), who flew out of the company of Olympian gods to join the Titans as their messenger goddess during the Titanomachy, making the two sisters enemy messenger goddesses. Iris was said to have golden wings, whereas Arke had iridescent ones.
She is also said to travel on the rainbow while carrying messages from the gods to mortals. During the Titan War, Zeus tore Arke's iridescent wings from her and gave them as a gift to the Nereid Thetis at her wedding, who in turn gave them to her son, Achilles, who wore them on his feet.
Achilles was sometimes known as podarkes (feet like [the wings of] Arke.) Podarces was also the original name of Priam, king of Troy.
Iris had numerous poetic titles and epithets, including Chrysopteron (Golden Winged), Podas ôkea (swift footed) or Podênemos ôkea (wind-swift footed), and Thaumantias or Thaumantos (Daughter of Thaumas, Wondrous One). Under the epithet Aellopus (Ἀελλόπους) she was described as swift-footed like a storm-wind. She also watered the clouds with her pitcher, obtaining the water from the sea.
Iris is represented either as a rainbow, or as a young maiden with wings on her shoulders. As a goddess, Iris is associated with communication, messages, the rainbow and new endeavors.
The word iridescence is derived in part from the name of this goddess.
"Arco iris" and "arco-íris" are the words for "rainbow" in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, where "Arco" means "bow" in English.
The iris of the eye is named after her as she was the goddess of the rainbow, to reflect the many colours of the eye.
Apparently there is an iris farm right here in the city where I live, called "Hanks Iris Garden." I am set to visit there tomorrow, and hope to pick up some iris from my wish list like 'Hostess Royale' and 'Fancy Dress.' The owner is named Louise and she has photos of her farm on Facebook. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve!
The genus Iris is named after Iris, the Greek messenger goddess; the goddess of the sea and the sky. Iris's most famous association is with the rainbow. The greek's believed that Iris walked between heaven and earth over a bridge made by the rainbow. Legend has it that wherever Iris walked, her footprints bore flowers in the colors of the rainbow.
The Iris family lives up to its rainbow goddess name, with frilled blossoms that can be any color or combination of colors, from blue to yellow to red to green to white and even black!
My other great plant interest is cacti and succulents. There are no true blue flowers in the cactus family; the pigments that produce them are not present in cacti. This makes the various shades of blue in the iris family appeal to me all the more.
I've grown tropical shrubs, roses, orchids of all kinds, hibiscus, cacti and succulents (including epiphytic cacti), with moderate success but lots of labor involved. Many times, I find myself fighting against the dry, desert-like southwestern climate of California's inland valley.
Perhaps it's time to indulge my dream of growing Iris. Iris love sunshine and dry weather. Mom always had iris as I was growing up; some of my earliest memories include admiring the beautiful evergreen fan-like iris foliage, noticing the tall and proud flower stalks heralding springtime, and watching the unfurling of delicate flower buds to ruffled petals of many colors.
I hadn't thought much about iris lately, having been busy raising my family, but a few months ago I stumbled upon an iris exhibition at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Upon viewing the exhibition, again the desire to attempt to grow these beautiful and reputedly carefree plants resurrected itself.
Intuitively, I was drawn to these lovely luminatas (Not knowing anything at the time about the color patterns in iris):
Lots of potted plants and a few available rhizomes caught my attention. I went home with a few varieties to try my luck with, including 'Alabaster Unicorn', 'Honor Flight', 'Peggy Sue', 'Barbara May' and 'Mary Frances'. All are potted up and growing (and will eventually go into the ground.) Now to look to find the Southern California Iris Society to find out about joining!!
I've ordered some rhizomes from a commercial supplier in Oregon named "Schreiners", a family-run business in operation since the 1920s. My box arrived in the mail this week and contained many FAT rhizomes, that are now planted along my front walk.