One of the best things about May is the colorful outbursts of iris blooming every where you look around Tennessee. The bearded iris is the state flower so no self-respecting Tennessee garden can be found without at least one variety of iris gracing the mid to late spring garden. Though purple is most often associated with the state flower, iris blooms can be seen in a rainbow of colors gathered around mailboxes, fence rows, lining driveways and more with their distinct tall pointed leaves and large velvety petals . It would seem that iris would be the flower of the month for May, right? Apparently not.
Bearded iris are probably my favorite flower to draw and to paint. I love drawing the ruffles that adorn the falls and standards of the petals. They remind me of antebellum dresses. Or I could say I love painting the many colors they come in, but the truth is I love the purple ones the most. Yes I play favorites!! Thinking about painting another iris, I decided to look up the meaning of iris and found some interesting facts.
According to Flower Meanings.com this beautiful flower was named for the Greek goddess, Iris. The Greeks believed the flower symbolized the rainbow bridge between heaven and earth. Petal Republic.com says the iris was adopted as the symbol of France in the Fleur-de-lis when King Clovis I adopted Christianity as the official religion. The three petals of the iris falls and standards were believed to embody the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Irises frequently show up in the portraits of kings and queens leading to an association with royalty.
With all this noble and mystical history, who decided that the iris was the flower of the month of February? Most bearded iris bloom after the daffodils and tulips have come and gone. Neither of those make good February flowers either. Maybe daffodils in some locations but not usually. Why isn’t crocus or snowdrops the flower of February? May should have been Iris month! Whoever the big flower of the month assigners are, they goofed on iris. Why didn’t anybody tell them when Iris bloom? At least they gave iris a month. For that we can be grateful!! Now back to painting…