"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Purple and Violet Iris Mix (1 of 2)

Purple and Violet Iris Mix (1 of 2)

From “Iris: The Flower of the Rainbow” in Flowers in History by Peter Coats:

“The story of the iris begins many years before the birth of Christ, and it is said that among the spoils of war that the Pharaoh of Egypt, Thutmosis I, brought back from his Syrian wars in 1950 BC, was an important collection of medicinal roots, dried herbs and seeds. Only a few were meant to be grown as flowers, and most of the collection was put at the disposal of the court physicians and sorcerers, for research and the production of love philtres. But Thutmosis thought highly of his botanical booty and had it commemorated on a carved marble panel which can still be seen on the walls of the temple of the Theban Ammon at Karnak. The carving includes several different flowers — among them, Egyptologists claim, a representation of Iris oncocyclus.”

From “Over the Rainbow: Bearded Irises and Your Garden” in A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts by Kelly Norris:

“Purple, almost to annoyance, is the quintessential iris color. Though a rather vernacular word for any number of specific colors between red and blue, including… indigo and violet, it permeates the rainbow in gardeners’ minds when someone utters the word ‘iris.’ Like blue does for delphiniums or gentians, and yellow for sunflowers or daffodils, purple in many ways defines the genus Iris.”


Happy June the First to all those who celebrate!

To mark the occasion — which is also the start of meteorological summer (because weather-people apparently have their own seasons); the beginning of Atlantic Hurricane Season (only good news if you’re a hurricane); and the date of many historical events and holidays — I’ve assembled the first of two posts featuring irises in various shades of purple and violet from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens.

Violet can be difficult to differentiate from purple, especially among flowers that bloom not in single colors but in hues that vary so much depending on the condition of the flower, the light or shadow nearby, and whether or not The Photographer remembers what color they were when he or she photographed them. I had originally thought those flowers in the middle of the images below — those next to a concrete wall — were violet or deep purple in color, but couldn’t seem to get a natural look for them in Lightroom.

So I went back to the gardens to hunt them up again, discovering that, in real life, the ruffled edges and petal undersides were often violet, but the center mass of each flower’s falls was more like fuchsia or magenta in color, rather than violet. Violet doesn’t dominate as a color in most of these photos, but instead is scattered throughout individual flowers wherever purple seems to head in a dark direction. I know this because — color nerd that I’m apparently becoming — I used a color slurping tool to pick out groups of pixels and determine which ones were interpreted as shades of violet versus shades of purple, blue, or magenta. Yes, I actually did that….

My previous iris posts are:

Irises in Pink, Peach, and Splashes of Orange (2 of 2)

Irises in Pink, Peach, and Splashes of Orange (1 of 2)

Irises in Blue and Purple Hues (2 of 2)

Irises in Blue and Purple Hues (1 of 2)

Black Iris Variations (and Hallucinations)

Thanks for taking a look!


    1. Dale

      I didn’t know about free Slurpee days — thanks for the tip!

      I tried to find out who the holiday “June the First” was named after, but after several seconds of searching concluded there was no queen, monarch, empress, or other aristocrat by that name — so I guess someone just made it up.

      I looked at a few different tools for picking colors out of images — and, of course, installed ColorSlurp because of the name. But only then was its best feature revealed: when you select colors from an image for it to identify, it makes a slurping noise! haha!

    1. Dale

      Quite an assortment, eh? I knew the gardens had planted a lot of new irises but missed them last year, so was really glad to have gotten a chance to photograph them this spring.

      Thanks for the comment!

Leave a reply ...