1. The Iris: a message for you

The Iris: a message for you

For me, the Iris is a flower I associate with wonderful memories. For many years, I helped out in my father's company, Wagemaker Flowers BV. I can think back to good times when my father and I planted thousands of iris bulbs together. After a number of weeks, the irises produced buds and it was then time for us to pick them and turn them neatly into bunches of ten. It was also important to remove any brown tips from the leaves and slip a protective sleeve over the flowers. That was the last I would see of them since once they were locked away in the cold store, the truck would take them away to the auction. Yet I always wondered where they would go and who would finally enjoy them.


The iris: a rainbow of colors

What I had never thought about was how the Iris got its name. The word “iris” means “rainbow” in Greek. This is actually quite true since you can find irises in every color of the rainbow. In addition to the literal meaning of the word “iris”, there was also a goddess in Greek mythology named Iris. According to the ancient Greeks, this goddess carried messages between mortals and the gods. She descended from heaven to earth by way of the rainbow. The symbolic meaning of the Iris is thus “I have a message for you”.

Van Gogh fascinated by the Iris


Van Gogh was fascinated by irises for a long time In 1889 and 1890, he was a patient in an asylum in Saint-Rémy, a village in southern France. Here, he was free to paint, and his favorite source of inspiration was the natural environment. As a result, he painted many flower still lifes, a number of them including irises. The most famous of these is "Vase of Irises".

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Watching them grow and flower

Irises are spring-flowering plants. This means that they will bloom in your garden from April through May. Botanists have discovered more than 200 iris species. Most of them emerge from bulbs and tubers, others from rhizomes. Irises are exceptionally beautiful in your garden or on your balcony or patio. The previous owner of my house was a fervent gardener and left behind some gorgeous irises in the garden. Every spring I get to enjoy watching them grow and flower.

No need to wait 10 months

Despite the fact that irises are spring-flowering plants in the garden, they are also cultivated year round in greenhouses to produce cut flowers. The climate in a greenhouse can be manipulated such that the bulbs respond by starting to grow and flower. That makes it nice for me - I don't have to wait 10 months. Irises are beautiful surprises. You buy them when they are still in bud. They don't look like much then because their petals are all hidden away under their green leaves. But just wait a little while until those buds start to open! Once those three petals pop into view, their true beauty is revealed. Irises have a wide range of colors ranging from bright yellow to deep blue and pure white. The most familiar varieties are 'Blue Magic', , 'Professor Blaauw', , 'Blue Diamond', 'Apollo' and 'Casa Blanca'.

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New homes

Large numbers of irises are being cultivated right at this moment. Among the cut flowers sold in 2013, the Iris was in the top 25. No fewer than 82 million irises were sold at auction that year! And this large number was even greater than the year before when 72 million irises had been sold. How do all of those irises find a home? Apparently, they are so much appreciated for their beauty that they all find their place somewhere in the world. Wouldn't it be great to have a map showing where all of them go?


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