Iris inspiration for RHS Chelsea Flower Show
This year the Royal Horticultural Society flower show at Chelsea has drawn inspiration from the Blood Iris ( iris sanguinea ) and its deep blue-violet petals appear as the show emblem.
The Iris flower takes its name from the Ancient Greek goddess, Iris, who was the goddess of the rainbow. In myth she was depicted as walking the rainbow path bringing gifts from the Gods to earth. One of the most precious gifts we enjoy throughout our lives is the rainbow of colours reflected in plants and flowers, and for thousands of years these have offered us creative and spiritual inspiration.
Unlike previous year’s, this years Chelsea show has pushed back the frontiers and instead of merely showcasing the wonderful variety of plants and flowers they are also challenging us to think more about the future. Wild flower gardens, drought resistant plants and urban gardening are all on the agenda. The creators of many of the show gardens and displays have come up with innovative ways that we employ to preserve our precious resources and better care for species of plants, birds and insects that are rapidly declining in number due to drought, loss of habitat and modern farming methods.
One of the reasons that we find Irises so inspirational is their star shape. Each flower made up of two overlapping triangles made up of three petals and three sepals. When viewed from above these create a beautifully symmetrical six-pointed star, a symbol of the union between earth and sky and the idea that we live in both a physical and spiritual universe. The buds that are slim and pointed also act as a reminder of our heavenly connections.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Iris flower is its colouring. We commonly regard the Iris as being blue or violet with the inner petals streaked with yellow or white and these hues all add to the starburst effect but at the Chelsea flower show you can also see a dazzling array of other tones. Irises appear in yellow, orange, pale pink, lavender and white while tall bearded varieties include much darker and mysterious tones of deep purple, red, orange and black. In psychological terms, these velvety tones symbolise the the unconscious mind and universal forces at work on an unseen level.
Perhaps the Iris carries two messages for us, on the one hand we must take delight in nature’s beauty but on the other hand we should endeavour to preserve and protect these wonderful free gifts to inspire future generations.
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