Known as the Juniperus bermudiana, blue-eyed grass and Bermuda triangle iris, Bermuda’s national flower can be found blooming across the island as early as March and as late as June. It is a grasslike member of the iris family with a long stalk that shoots up to a delicate bluish-violet flower with a dramatic yellow-golden centre. They close at night and on cloudy days, and they take over the landscape, announcing the arrival of spring by overwhelming the landscape with the colour purple. “It grows wild even in the rockiest of places and, if allowed, spreads. Every May we now have such an abundance that they have taken over our lawn, almost converting it to a purple field of lilies,” wrote Elizabeth Jones in The Bermudian magazine’s article “Naturally Speaking” in 2011. Whilst abundant and simple in its beauty, local folklore attributes the flower’s appearance on the island to the tragic story of Sally Bassett — a slave accused of poisoning her “owners.” Bassett, whose “owners” also had possession of her granddaughter, insisted she was innocent of any wrongdoing, but was nonetheless burned at the stake in June 1730 at the eastern end of Hamilton Harbour. Legend has it that the small flower, previously unknown on the island, grew from her ashes. A 10-foot-tall statue of Basset, created by artist Carlos Dowling, now stands on the Cabinet office grounds in Hamilton. And the little flowers continue to proliferate across the land.
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