The mission of the Charlotte Iris Society (CIS) is to organize and disseminate knowledge of the genus Iris, while fostering its preservation, enjoyment and continued development. The CIS welcomes all people.
Iris was a goddess in ancient Greek mythology. She served as messenger from the gods to mortals. Iris was also the goddess of the rainbow; iris in Greek means rainbow. When she had a message to deliver, the goddess Iris traveled to earth on a rainbow. Wherever she stepped beautiful, colorful flowers bloomed.
Greek mythology also maintain that the goddess Iris guided dead women to their final resting place. Today, in Greece, one might still see purple irises planted on female graves.
In the 1460’s B.C., an Egyptian King, and avid gardener, conquered Syria and brought irises back to his own gardens. In the Middle Ages, the purple (or dark blue) iris became a symbol of royalty, especially for the French Monarchy. The shape of the iris gave rise to the fleur-de-lis symbol which was featured in architecture and on heraldry items such as shields and coats-of-arms. Fleur-de-lis is the national flower of France. Records suggest irises were brought to North America by 17th century European settlers who planted them in Virginia.
As a flower, iris can mean: wisdom, hope, faith, purity, trust, courage, passion, royalty, depending on the flower color. There are over 260 different iris species today with thousands of varieties. They are versatile flowers that can range from 2 inches to 6 feet tall. Irises can bloom from early spring to summer; some irises will re-bloom in fall. They can be grown in arid conditions, as well as in meadows or in wetlands. Iris are available in a “rainbow” of colors.