Iris – Goddess of the Rainbow

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Iris – Goddess of the Rainbow

Married to the God of the West Wind (Zephyrus), Iris travelled on the rainbow to carry messages from the Greek Gods on Mount Olympus to mortals on earth. Her name was given to a group of flowers which display every colour of the rainbow. The Iris family (Iridaceae) includes the Crocus, Crocosmia (Monbretia), Gladiolus, Freesia, Sisyrinchium and Tigridia. The bearded irises have a spectacular but unfortunately rather short lived flowering period each spring. They prefer well-drained soil (unlike their cousins, the flag irises who love wet areas along streams and ponds) and should be planted with at least part of their rhizome above ground level. After three to four years, the plant becomes less vigorous and should be lifted and split. The literature will tell you to discard the oldest section, but I hate to throw any plant away and will always replant this section and get a few more blooms out of it.