Friday, May 21, 2010

What's not to love about an Iris?

The word Iris means a rainbow. Iris is the flower of the Greek Goddess Iris who is the messenger of Love. In the language of flowers, Iris symbolizes eloquence.

There are over 200 species of Iris in many colors, shapes and sizes, all of which are adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. The three principal types of Iris include bearded, beardless and crested.

Bearded Iris are characterized by their bearded petals and are the easiest type to grow. They have three petals that stand upright, known as standards. The three petals that hang down below the standards are known as falls. The "beard" is the fuzzy strip that runs down the center of the fall.

Beardless Iris are similar in appearance to their bearded cousins but they have smooth fall petals and thinner, more grass-like leaves. Of all the varieties in this group, I grow both the Siberian and the Japanese Iris. The difference between the two can be identified by the leaves...Japanese Iris have a rib going down the center of the leaves, the Siberian does not.

Crested Iris have a raised serrated ridge, or crest, running along the length of their falls, in the same place the beard is located on the bearded varieties. Crested varieties can tolerate more shade than the bearded types. Flowers are typically blue, lavender or white. There are no Crested Iris pictured here.

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