Not just a beautiful flower...
The word Iris comes from the Greek language meaning rainbow. Some believe that irises are the rainbow flowers because of the amazing variety of colours they exhibit. But to the ancient Greeks, Iris was also a Greek goddess who relayed messages from the underworld to the gods. She used rainbows to travel to the heavens to deliver her messages and would provide an escort to heaven for the dearly departed. The ancients Greeks would often plant iris on the graves of their loved ones to signal to the goddess Iris that they were ready for the journey to the heavens.
Irises are exceptional in other cultures around the world. Japanese believe the plants have purifying qualities and wear images of iris on their kimonos to ward off evil. In Chinese culture, irises are often depicted in drawings, with the fluttering of the iris flowers likened to butterflies. The iris flower is also the emblem of France and the inspiration for the Fleur-de-lis, a symbol from the French monarchy depicted on many coats of arms and buildings.
Whatever the history of iris, we love them for their unique efflorescence and astonishing ‘rainbow’ of colours.