Now I read about the many varieties of iris. I'm most familiar with the bearded iris, Iris Germanica, found among the old New England homesteads. The books say this is probably a species bred and created, not a native to this New World soil.
It's an ancient flower, revered by Egyptians, Greeks, kings and artists. You find its glory painted by Van Gogh and emblazoned as the fleur-de-lis, symbol of the might of the French monarchy.
Iris was the Greek goddess who bridged earth and heaven with her rainbows. She was a message-bearer and the one who led the souls of dead women to the Elysian fields. Her namesake flower honored women's graves.
The flowers are famous for perfumes and dyes, orris root, old remedies for illnesses as well as for keeping kegs of beer from going stale.