In Greek Mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the gods. (In Greek iris translates to "the rainbow," and eiris, "messenger.") She was a symbol of the connection between the heavens and the earth, serving as a mediatrix between gods and mortals. The goddess is a common figure in Greek poetry and myth, most notably in Homer’s Iliad: “swift wind-footed Iris” (Iliad. xxiii. 168).

Not surprisingly then, Greenaway writes that Irises mean “message.” I wonder about the connection of a fleet-footed messenger and the flower itself. Irises bloom late May, early June (here in Chicago at least), they last a while in the garden, but as cut flowers, they are very short lived. Perhaps there is a connection between the ephemerality of a rainbow and the fleeting nature of this flower. Or perhaps it's the variety of color and it's arched petals that invite the comparison.

I didn't know this before researching, but I found it very interesting that the Irises are the flower depicted in the fleur de lis. I’m nerding out a little about it --don’t worry, I’ll spare you-- but if you’re interested, go to the Iris Wikipedia page and read about the origin of the fleur de lis.

That's all for now.



Vincent Van Gogh, Irises, 1889

Vincent Van Gogh, Irises, 1889

Mary Simmons