They look about to pirouette.
Tra-la! It’s May!… The lusty month of May!
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, Camelot
The dogwood is at its peak, with luminescent pink blooms and white petals overlapping each other on the trees.
My favorite garden flower show, though, is the irises. We are lucky in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to traipse to the Schreiner’s Iris Farm, where iris bloom in an astonishing array of colors. Dogwood and irises at the same time!
According to the website American Meadows, Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Iris is also the root source of the fleur-de-lis, a symbol of royalty and now a commonplace motif in decoration.
But that is boring history when a visit to an iris garden in bloom is a riot of color and arrogance and more than a bit of walkway vanity.
Irises can be bred like showy models changing wardrobes: bright pink top with blue skirt, graduating lavender skirt with deep purple top, and so on. Irises are ballerinas, tall and on point, swaying slightly as if about to pirouette. They have the full and ruffled dress, like tutus stretching out beneath a scalloped skirt.
Great gardens show them off with a supporting cast of lesser plants, in complementary shades of greens and contrasting flowers.
May is the most heavenly month for flowers. And heaven knows that tuning in to the news is a non-stop bombardment of assaults on our sensibilities.
At this sensory overload time of year, I turn to the flowers.
I retired to the Pacific Northwest. One of the unexpected delights is how the languid growing season provides a longer and more lovely enjoyment of different blooming seasons. There are many festivities and visits for each type of garden.
Farms here grow flowers to propagate and market and cut and sell bulbs and seeds. They also sponsor festivals when the season is peaking. We can wander the grounds and shop for crafts and drink floral-infused lemonade or ice cream and look at the Plein-air art.
I know the Dutch revered their tulips and created the famous tulip financial bubble, but really, the irises are the bulbs for getting emotionally borne away. The cost of the newest hybrid bulbs revives the old economic warnings to carefully spend your dollars.
A visit to the breeders and their fields and gardens, though, is a low-cost celebration and makes me laugh with delight.