Featured Flower: Bearded Irises



As you may recall, last weekend was Mother’s Day.  Here is to another kind of mother:  an aunt.  While yellow roses make me think of my mother, irises will always be a special sense memory connection with my aunt.  When I was young, I remember the delight we had going through catalogs and picking out bulbs with fantastical names like Sky Hooks and Victoria Falls then planting the bulbs and anticipating the spring when the glorious blooms would come.  We both loved searching for each bloom like a brightly colored Easter egg in the grass and trying to recall each name as we sampled its sweet perfume and admired its unique colors and markings.

Bearded irises come in such a wide variety of colors from whites, yellows, peaches, to pinks, blues, purples and reds…even black! 

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The colors can be mixed with multiple paintings near the beard and washes and blending of color reminiscent of watercolor paintings.  They are stately, diaphanous blooms with cascading (fall) and rising (standard) petals creating an origami cathedral to nature’s impermanent beauty.  Most blooms last only a day or two, but stems usually display at least two or three blooms.  They are sweetly fragrant and slightly licorice smelling.  The heavy stems require a formidable frog (for ikebana) or a good-sized vase (she and I prefer them in Barbra Hoffman original ceramic vases). 

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Perhaps it is because of the variety of colors that the iris is associated with the goddess of rainbows in ancient Greek tradition.  It is true they have the range of a kaleidoscope, but to me, they will always be associated with fond memories of my aunt.

What flowers remind you of special people in your life?