In the Iris Garden with Vincenzo Corti
The President of the Italian Iris Society takes us to one of the city's most beautiful green oases
How many species of iris are grown in this small gem of a garden?
The garden preserves all the best varieties of tall and border bearded iris which, since the 1950s, have competed in the international competition held in the garden itself. What’s more, as this is a completely unique single-genus botanical garden, over the years numerous associations and collectors have donated their irises - special varieties as well as cultivars that are ancient or threatened with extinction - so that today the garden boasts some 9,000 different varieties of iris.
And one of them has a special significance for Florence, although everyone calls it a lily…
Yes, the Iris florentina. The story goes that it was the origin of the city’s symbol, which started out as a white ‘lily’ on a red background. Then, having overcome the Ghibellines in 1267, the Guelphs decided to invert the colours.
Is there a particularly rare species?
TheMme Chéreau, created in 1844 by the French botanist Jean-Nicolas Lémon, is one of the oldest artificial hybrids.
What makes the Iris Garden such a special place?
Its uniqueness, its location, its exceptional plant and, of course, the fantastic explosion of colours during the flower season.
When is it open, and what’s the best time to visit?
The garden is open from 25 April to 20 May, when the irises are in flower. The best time of day is probably the morning.
Which events take place in the garden?
We host a large number of cultural events. But the most unusual is still the hybridisation course organised by our society.
Three more of your favourite places in Oltrarno?
I’ll choose three wonderful spots: San Miniato al Monte, Forte di Belvedere and San Niccolò.