By Andi Rivarola
Just as many of us in the U.S. were enjoying the gardens near Portland, Oregon during the National Convention of The American Iris Society, Italians and other European iris lovers were attending their own world iris gatherings. This post is about one such event, The Iris Garden and "Premio Firenze," in Florence, Italy.
The Iris Garden in Florence located at the Park Michelangelo was created to host the Annual International Competition, and its main prize, the “Premio Firenze” (Florence Award), was given for the first time in 1954. Crucial to the development of this event were Mr. Flaminia Specht and Ms. Nita Stross Radicati, members of the Friends of Flowers Society. Active hybridizers, it was their energy and drive that brought the event to Florence, a city with an interesting historic relationship with the iris.
The then Commissioner of Fine Arts and Gardens, Piero Bargellini, immediately sensed the importance of the initiative, he worked actively to support it and he pushed for the municipality to assign an area on the eastern side of the park.
The Garden was an original project by architect G. Zetti and opened in May 1957, after plant donations were made by many foreign growers, including a large collection of historic irises donated by The Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair, New Jersey, U.S.
In 1967 the lower area was built to house a pond in marshy ground surrounding the Japanese and Louisiana irises.
|Mr. Saverio Pepe Enjoying the view|
The Iris Garden is run by the Italian Iris Society, founded in Florence in March of 1959 mainly for the purpose of managing the garden designed to accommodate the International Iris Competition and protect the numerous collections of plants it received.
More on Part II...
Note: This article was original posted in Italian by Saverio Pepe, a resident of Florence, who kindly gave permission to use his material and images for this blog post.
Translated by Andi Rivarola