In the spring, the tall, bearded purple irises (Iris germanica), named after the Greek goddess who rode on rainbows as a messenger of the gods, bloom in the garden. The elegance of the flower has lent itself throughout history to represent regents and monarchs, are found on flags around the world, even the Fleur-de-lis is a stylized iris.
These flowers have a rhizome root system, making them easy to divide when they become overcrowded. Many gardens grow the flower including Presby Iris Gardens in Montclair, New Jersey with over 10,000 iris plants!
We don’t have 10,00 plants but ours have been in the neighborhood for over 20 years. They are from a neighbor, Sam, who lived on Putnam Ave. When Sam passed away around the time of the founding of the garden, his home was in the process of being sold to a developer who planned on removing the irises and roses in favor of other landscaping. So we moved them to a new home in the garden. Every few years, or when neighbors ask, we divide the irises so they can grow in new homes and spread Sam’s legacy throughout the neighborhood.