Iris Are Blooming!

Updated: May 16

Iris are blooming, unfolding graceful petals to catch the light of the spring morning.



Iris is the Greek word for rainbow. In Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow. She is a daughter of the gods, Thaumas and Electra. Iris is a messenger of the gods. As the goddess of the rainbow, she links the gods with humanity. Iris is also known as one of the goddesses of the sea and the sky. When Iris arrives on the rainbow, colorful flowers sprout where her feet touch the ground. No wonder the name Iris was given to a genus of plants with such a fabulous variety of colors!


The iris symbolizes love, trust, faith, hope, wisdom, valor, and promise. It is traditionally used to represent a 25th anniversary. We are highlighting the beautiful Iris to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Botanical Artist's Guild of Southern California




An elegant variety of flowering plants, the Iris is the largest genus of the Iridaceae Family, with between 260 - 300 species. The Subfamily of iris is Iridoideae and the Order is Asparagales. Iris are perennial plants found throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere zones of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Iris can be found in dry, semi-desert, and cooler rocky mountain habitats. Some species may be found in habitats that include grassy slopes, meadows, bogs and river banks. The Iris grow from creeping rhizomes and in dryer climates from bulbs. Iris range in size from just a few inches in height to several feet in height.

Parts of an iris flower
Parts of the iris flower. Photo Donnett Vanek ©

The flower of the Iris is a complicated flower. It seems to have six petals, however, the flower consists of three standard petals, which are the upright petals.Three falls (sepals) which point downward. On the fall is the beard. Moving inward, hovering over the beard is a style arm and style crest, stigma and anther. Pollinators land on the the fall, work their way across the beard, and down to the anther and pollen. As they do this the pollen falls on them and as the pollinators go from flower to flower they spread the pollen.


According to the U.S. forest Service, there are 28 species of Iris native to the United States. These native species are found in every state of the lower 48 states as well as Alaska. However most are found in the Pacific coastal areas and southeastern states. Many of our native Iris are threatened due to loss of native habitat such as endangered wetlands, meadows, swamps and other wetland habitats. For more information on our native iris please follow this link:

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/beauty/iris/index.shtml


Iris are in bloom typically May through June. Fortunately for those of us near the Los Angeles area, there are several wonderful botanical gardens to see these beautiful flowers in bloom. Most of the botanical gardens have a bloom calendar which informs you when flowers are in bloom. Below are links to a few of the botanical gardens and their bloom calendars:

Descanso Gardens - https://www.descansogardens.org/visit/whats-in-bloom/

Huntington Library, Art Museum,and Botanical Gardens - https://www.huntington.org/whats-blooming

The Arboretum, Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden - https://www.arboretum.org/bloom-calendar/

South Coast Botanic Garden - https://southcoastbotanicgarden.org/plants-garden/


In celebration of 25 years, the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California has several events planned. First on the calendar is a Zoom workshop with the artist Carol Woodin:

Transient Beauties: Iris in Watercolor with Carol Woodin

Transient and complicated—Iris flowers can be a challenge to capture. With some quick brushwork and mapping out of the entire Iris, the groundwork is laid for a completion of a successful Iris painting. Carol Woodin will lead us through the steps in this one-day, online, watercolor workshop.

Date: May 21,2022 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM

This workshop is now open to BAGSC members as well as the public.

This is an online workshop. We offer the workshop OR the option to view the recording of the workshop. Choose either the workshop OR the recording of the workshop, not both. A wait list will be made for the workshop, once spaces have filled up.

Please follow this link to register: https://www.bagsc.org/iris-workshop-with-carol-woodin


The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California will be having a group show, The Iris.

In celebration of 25 years, this group show of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California presented on the BAGSC wall at the Brody Botanical Center, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens will explore the fantastic forms and colors of the iris. All members of BASGC are invited to submit work to this show. We will post more about this exhibition as information becomes available.


To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, we will have an event to be held in September. We are presently working on details for this event and will post more information as it becomes available.


For more information on the iris, here are two resource links:

Iris Encyclopedia https://wiki.irises.org

The American Iris Society https://www.irises.org/about-ais/


The BAGSC website is a great source of information for our members. If you are a BAGSC member, please remember to subscribe to our website, it’s easy to do. Just scroll down to the bottom of the Home page, https://www.bagsc.org,click on subscribe and follow the prompts.


Are you interested in becoming a member of BAGSC? We are a chapter of the American Society of Botanical Artists. When you join ASBA, or if you are already an ASBA member, you can choose Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California as the chapter you wish to join. https://asba-art.org/join/joinrenew-now-0

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