From “The Virtuous Plants” in The Origins of Garden Plants by John Fisher:
“The Iris was said to have been first adopted as an emblem in the sixth century by King Clovis of the Franks, after a clump of Iris pseudacorus, Yellow Water Flag, had shown him where he could ford a river and so escape from a superior force of Goths….
“It was revived as an emblem, the Fleur de Louis, by Louis VII of France in 1147 when he set off on the disastrous second crusade. It figured at one time in our own royal coat-of-arms and still appears on the dials of non-digital compasses to show the way to the north. But the Iris was used in medicine as well as in heraldry. It was said to be a remedy against dropsy, jaundice, the ague, stones in the kidney and a number of less serious though distressing complaints. The blue garden variety, Iris germanica, was cultivated even in the ninth century by Walafrid Strabo, abbot of Reichenau, the famous monastery on Lake Constance, and no doubt soon spread to gardens this side of the channel.”
And in her garden grow the fleur de lys,
The tall mauve iris of a sleeping clime.
Their pale, ethereal beauty seems to be
The frail and delicate breath of even-time.
And night, who stooped to kiss the pallid leaves
To that strange colour, sighing gently, grieves
For her who walks within her garden-close.
Somehow it seems, amid the evening haze,
That in her garden, rather than the days,
There should be night for ever, and no rose,
But only iris on their slender stalks
Along the borders of the garden-walks.
This is the second of two posts featuring irises in shades of purple and violet from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. The first post is Purple and Violet Iris Mix (1 of 2), and my previous iris posts for this season are:
Thanks for taking a look!