Article: In the beginning....The Blue Flag: A little more info on Blue Flag

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Image In the beginning....The Blue Flag
By Sharon Brown on May 13, 2010

It's been a long time since I lived in the mountains of southeast Kentucky, and a very long time since I transplanted wild Blue Flags from the side of one of those mountains into my great Aunt Bett's back yard. To me they were beautiful, to her, they were medicinal. Some things are not meant to be forgotten.

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ImagePollyK
May 12, 2010 7:15 PM CST
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY

Blue Flag iris is normally used to describe Iris versicolor, an iris that grows wild in much of the US. But in some places it may refer to other irises, such as Iris virginica. In the deep south it is often used to describe Louisiana irises, usually Iris giganticaerulea.

But the iris Sharon and Aunt Bett are referring to is Iris versicolor.

Iris versicolor is an easily grown garden plant, loving just about any garden conditions, with soil from wet to dry. It has an elegant flower, with up to nine blooms per stalk, with colors ranging from lavender to soft blue purple, on slender, arching, well branched stems.

Medicinally, it is still used as a drug to purge the liver and intestines.

Some very successful hybridizing has been done with iris versicolor, often crossing it with siberian iris.

To find out more about iris versicolor, and to see some of the hybridizations, please come visit our irises cubit.

http://cubits.org/irisforum/search.php?q=versicolor
Imageirisarian
May 12, 2010 7:35 PM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
irises
It is also the source (food) of the native iris pest--the iris borer. You will hear European saying 'we don't have that here'. Certainly not unless they imported versicolor.
Imageirisloverdee
May 12, 2010 7:48 PM CST
Name: Dee Stewart
Willamette Valley OR
Snowpeak Iris
Thank you for the article I enjoyed it because it was from the heart.
D
Denise Stewart
541-259-2343
Snowpeak http://snowpeakiris.com

ImageSharon
May 12, 2010 7:48 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
There's always good, and there's always bad.
But we are talking about 60 years ago. I don't remember the iris borer from those days. Probably now, but not then.

Even so, Lucy, it was the perfect intro for me into the world of gardening and the world of herbal/plant medicines. I place a lot of value on that alone.

Sorry to say I haven't had much success with it here in western KY. Too hot, too dry for it here. But I will always see it as beautiful. And with every iris that blooms in my yard these days, I remember the old Blue Flag.

Thumbnail by Sharon

ImageSharon
May 12, 2010 7:49 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Thanks, Dee...it was truly from the heart.
ImagePollyK
May 12, 2010 8:00 PM CST
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY

Lucy, I have never seen a borer, probably because I spray for aphids and thrips, but I have quite a few versicolors around. Guess I'm lucky, huh. I don't think I have any of the straight versicolors, but have many of the hybrids. maybe they don't draw the borers as much?
ImageAndi
May 16, 2010 9:35 AM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
I love iris, my favorite flower. I haven't tried to grow versicolor, but am glad that you grow it successfully in NY.

I haven't had borers, thankfully, but I had troubles with some rhizomes getting soft last year. Last year was one of the wettest, coldest springs. I took out the iris, cut and treated any soft ones, and planted them in slightly raised, amended area at the sides of the gardens. they are doing much better this spring.

I have had a terrible winter, so I am playing catch up inside and out, lately. Everything is blooming early this year, lifting my spirits. I have to get these wintersown plants into the garden so that I can use my patio again!
ImageSharon
May 16, 2010 10:21 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Hi Andi,
It's good to hear from you again.

I hope this spring and summer will be much better for you. And I hope your irises grow well.
ImageRidesredmule
May 21, 2010 9:54 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Alford, Florida
Walk in Peace.
I've been looking for the name to this iris. I do believe I found it. I really did enjoy the story.
Always wonderful to know the history of our favorite plants.
Charleen

Thumbnail by Ridesredmule

ImageSharon
May 21, 2010 5:23 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Hi RR....could be.
Glad the article might have helped.
ImageRidesredmule
May 21, 2010 5:25 PM CST
Name: Charleen
Alford, Florida
Walk in Peace.
They sure resemble don't they? It really doesn't matter , it the beauty that really counts.
ImageSharon
May 21, 2010 5:37 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
It looks similar to me, too, but I think maybe if Polly comes along she can tell us for sure.

And yes, it's the beauty that always counts.
That's for sure.
ImagePollyK
May 21, 2010 7:34 PM CST
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY

I would agree Charleen, looks like versicolor to me. And you're right, it is the beauty that counts.
ImageRidesredmule
May 22, 2010 6:52 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Alford, Florida
Walk in Peace.
Thank you very much, both of you. I love my flowers.
It really doesn't matter what one it is. Group hug
flowers for you both........

Thumbnail by Ridesredmule

ImagePollyK
May 22, 2010 7:52 AM CST
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY

Thank you! I love them!
ImageSharon
May 22, 2010 8:24 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Me too!! Thanks, Charleen!
ImageRidesredmule
May 22, 2010 1:28 PM CST
Name: Charleen
Alford, Florida
Walk in Peace.
My honor.....
Imagebillyporter
Jun 4, 2010 1:41 PM CST
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa
Sharran, loved the story! You and Aunt Bett found a place in my heart after the first story of your's that I read.

In 97, I walked down the railroad tracks and dug this out of the ditch. I think I better get it out where I can appeciate it more, LOL!

Thumbnail by billyporter

A small town has no secrets except itself
ImageSharon
Jun 10, 2010 10:56 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Hi BP.....
Thank you!! I get hooked on some of your stories too, ya know! And when you talk about your garden, I starve.

I've just been back home to the mountains for a week or so, and oh it was good for my soul. I went on a 4 wheeler and followed many of those trails that Aunt Bett and I walked. I thought I could climb instead, but decided I could cover more territory on the 4 wheeler. That was very fun, but it took a day or two to recuperate.

Anyway I brought back some wild irises that grow only a few inches tall and spread like wildfire there....I'm wondering what they'll do here. I guess we'll see. They might live in a pot for the time being, it's almost too hot and dry here to plant right now.
ImageRidesredmule
Jun 10, 2010 11:48 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Alford, Florida
Walk in Peace.
Hot here today too. so Glad you are home. We missed you. Do you feel much better? Was it cool?
don't forget the pic. So glad you back..... Group hug Group hug

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