Not only are Iris and Daphne two of my favourite flowers, they are also two of my favourite characters from Greek mythology. I even named my first child after Iris, the amiable goddess of the rainbow.
For this week’s In A Vase on Monday, joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden, I have chosen two delicate all-blue Iris reticulata ‘Clairette’ and a sprig of divine lemony-scented Daphne, both from our front garden.
I planted the Iris reticulata last year as bulbs from Peter Nyssen and they have come up again this year about a month earlier. The unusual combination of blues is such a visual treat as you walk up the path to our front door.
I have written before about how much pleasure our Daphne gives me. I am a complete sucker for winter scent and this just blasts you with fragrance the minute you step between our gateposts. We inherited it with the house, so I am not sure of the species and hopes it lives longer than Daphnes are supposed to.
For my vase, I have chosen a Spode ‘Blue Camilla’ jug from my mother, to bring out the blues of the Iris. My props this week are two volumes on mythology on our Green Verditer-painted bookcase. I thought the pink spine of the Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology picked out the flowers of the Daphne.
The encyclopaedia has also proved handy to remind myself of the myths of Daphne and Iris. Daphne was the beautiful and chaste daughter of the river Peneius, who refused to submit to Apollo when he tried to ravish her. She fled, but he caught up with her, at which point she called upon Gaea to help her. The earth opened up and Daphne disappeared; a laurel tree grew in her place and Apollo made it the plant sacred to him.
Iris, who was the granddaughter of Gaea, the daughter of Thaumas and Electra and sister to the Harpies, was personified by the rainbow and she was also the messenger of the Gods, with golden wings attached to her shoulders and winged sandals. She could move swiftly through both air and water and was known by Gods and mortals for her good nature. I hope my daughter has had some of these qualities bestowed upon her!