Thursday, February 7, 2013

When It's Iris Time In Tennessee...

It's almost Iris Time in Tennessee!  What would our pretty state be without all of the lovely irises?  I suppose that's why one of our official songs is entitled, When it's Iris Time in Tennessee.  (We have at least 8 official songs!!The song was written by Willa Waid Newman and was adopted by the State's General Assembly as the official state song in 1935.  Here's a partial rendering of the lyrics:
(Photo by Luc Viatour)

When it's Iris time down in Tennessee,
I'll be coming back to stay
Where the mockingbird sings at the break of day
A lilting love song gay.
Where the Iris grows,
Where the Harpeth flows,
That is where I long to be.
There's a picture there that lives in memory
When it's Iris time in Tennessee. 

The Iris flower, itself, was adopted as Tennessee's state flower in 1933.   This created a slight problem, as the passion flower (Maypop) had been officially named the favorite flower in a poll of Tennessee school children fourteen years earlier.  In 1973, after years of Tennessee gardeners preferring one to another, the state legislature reached a compromise:  the iris is now the state's cultivated flower and the passion flower is the state's wildflower. In practicality, the iris receives more attention as the state flower.