The Garden of Iris in Florence

Botanists from every if the world come to Florence for the Iris Competition. The Garden of Iris is a green area close to the beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square), the panoramic terrace overlooking Florence.
The garden was born in 1954 with the purpose of hosting an international prize of the best selection of iris. Florence was chosen because of her relation with this flower, since it is the arm and the emblem of the city. It’s commonly said that the flower of Florence is a lily but it’s a mistake: it’s not a lily (giglio) but an iris (iris or giaggiolo).
Since then, every year the award takes place in this garden, trying to create a hybrid iris as close as possible to the red colour of the Florence coat of arm, that doesn’t exist in nature. This flower grows in nature in white and purple, more rarely in yellow and pink, but not in red. Queen of Florence, 1st prize 1975. R.A. Mallory, USA
The origin of the red iris is due to the inversion of the colours of the coat of arms of the Ghibellini party. This was the political faction backing the emperor and it was represented by a white iris on a red background, very common in the Tuscan countryside. The Guelfi were the supporters of the papacy. Since Florence was the city of the bankers and the main banking families lent money to the popes, this was the predominant political party of the city. When the Guelfi took the government of Florence, they banished the Ghibellini and they even took their arm, inverting the colours: the arm of Florence became a red iris on a white background. This is the origin of our flower.
In spite of the efforts and the experiments, the Society of Iris hasn’t obtained the red colour yet. Every year the iris flowers taking part in the competition are awarded for beauty, resistance, and, obviously, colour.
In the garden there are all the varieties of iris. Near the winner of every year, there are also the awarded flowers since the fist edition in 1957.
The Garden of Iris is open just one month every year, in the period of the bloomings, from the end of April until the end of May.
This year it’s open from April 25th to May 20th, from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm.The Garden of Iris, Florence
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