Goddesses of Color

The gentle rays of the spring sun have begun coaxing gentle colors out of the fields and meadows of the South. In celebration of this glorious return to vibrancy, we’re paying a visit to Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens.

In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow.  It’s small wonder, then that the flower which bears her name offers some of the plant kingdoms largest variety of dazzling colors, from vibrant reds to soothing violets and everything in between.

“The color variations and the forms are unlike anything else in the world that I know of,” said Stan Gray, who has made a lifelong pursuit out of cultivating these magnificent flowers. “There’s a tremendous diversity.”

For proof of his claims, one need only head over to Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens where Gray has planted hundreds of different varieties throughout the grounds. The son of famed iris gardener Charles Gray, whose Gray’s Iris Gardens was once one of the northeast’s largest, Stan has continued the family tradition across acres and acres of mesmerizing specimens throughout CGBG. “They give me a lot of space to play with.”

It was among these blooms that Stan’s son Colin Gray shot the gorgeous photos you see here, a tribute to the amazing work his father has done cultivating color in coastal Georgia.

Working with hybridizers around the country, Stan has carefully selected the varieties that will work best in our climate, such as the Louisiana Iris and the Tall Bearded Iris. And right around this time of year, these stunning botanical wonders will open up to the sun and create a can’t-miss visual kaleidoscope.

“I have all these irises in various displays around the garden – their bloom times are a little bit different based on what type of iris it is,” he said. “By late March the first blossoms will begin, but it will build up to a crescendo as we move deep into the month of April.”

The culmination of that bloom will come during a special “Birds, Bees and Blooms” event on April 27 at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, 2 Canebrake Rd, Savannah.

“This is really a celebration of this particular moment when all the irises are in bloom, along with anything else that’s blooming at that time. And it’s a celebration of Spring.”

Aside from the event, the grounds are always open for the public to come in and immerse themselves in this wondrous display of colors, like strolling through the rainbows of the goddess Iris herself.

For more information on “Birds, Bees and Blooms,” visit coastalbg.uga.edu

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