According to Greek mythology, when the gods wanted to communicate with mortals on earth they sent a messenger. The messenger was a goddess who, with golden wings, traveled to earth on a rainbow. Legend has it that wherever this goddess set foot on earth, colorful flowers sprung up. The goddess in question was Iris, and the flowers that were said to grow where she set foot bear her name.
Irises are an easy to grow perennial that every garden should have. Iris have been in gardens from ancient Egyptian times. They come in a dizzying variety of colors and patterns. There are over 300 species of Bearded Iris alone and the hybrids of each makes identification challenging at times.
There are three common varieties of Iris, Bearded, so called because of the hairs found on the petals, Siberian and Japanese. There are also wild iris that are native to the northeast commonly called Blue Flags that grow at the edges of marshes or in damp ditches. The most common garden variety is the bearded iris. They are large leaved, large flowering beauties pictured above. The Siberian Iris has narrow leaves and a smaller, more delicate flower. It is the source for the French fluer de lis. Japanese Iris also have smaller flowers which tend to be flatter than the others.
Irises grow from rhizomes and spread gradually to form larger clumps. They should be divided regularly to keep them healthy. Once they are established, they will bloom for years with very little maintenance. One of the most popular irises we have here on Our Funny Farm is the Dwarf Bearded Iris which is only about six inches tall and produces beautiful purple flowers.
At this point, Our Funny Farm only has a handful of varieties, and no Japanese Iris at all. Every year we are adding new varieties and colors. If you have Irises you'd like to share, we would be happy to receive them to add to our collection!