“Earth laughs in flowers” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hamatreya
Iris versicolor, commonly the blue iris, northern blueflag, or harlequin blueflag, blooms in late spring and early summer. It grows in marshes and swamps, bringing a shock of color to wetland landscapes when warm weather appears, otherwise sporting long, flat blue-green leaves that resemble giant blades of grass. The name Iris is an homage to the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Much like a Greek goddess, too, the iris’s beauty is only one side of the story; the same rhizomes by which it spreads underground are also poisonous.
I found this little beauty in a field on the edge of a wet ditch by the roadside. Driving by I would have missed it, but by walking I was going closer to flower-speed. There’s something incredibly pleasing about an iris. It’s showy and sassy, the veining intricate and the colors spectacular. While you are sure to find irises gracing gardens each year as spring transitions into summer, you can also spot them in wet, sunny spots, reminding you who the best-dressed of the swamp this time of year truly is.