The iris has been the symbol of Florence for a thousand years and therefore it is not at all surprising that precisely here an entire garden was dedicated to this beautiful flower. The garden is situated right next to the busy Piazzale Michelangelo but since it’s a bit hidden the entrance gate might be easy to miss. It was first opened in 1954 to host the annual international Iris exhibition and competition.
Every year Iris growers from around the world send their best flowers to the garden from June to September, where they are planned and cultivated for 3 years before they are reviewed by an international jury. If you want to know which iris was sent in by which grower, that is unfortunately not possible, because it is a so-called anonymous contest and all the flowers are only identified with a code to prevent favoritism. Prizes are awarded based on specific characteristics of a particular type of flower and the first prizewinner will be awarded with a gold Florin. The iris that best approaches the red on the coat of arms of Florence is awarded a special prize offered by the city. Until now, no one has succeeded to grow exactly the correct color red.
In the garden hosts some 1,500 different types of irises, not just the current participants in the competition but also the winners of recent years adorn the spacious 2 acre garden.
Click on the photos for a larger view.
Il Giardino dell’Iris is open from the end of April till the end of May and is located next to Piazzale Michelangelo. For current dates and openings hours check the organization’s website. Free entrance. Partially accessible for wheelchairs.