Inspiring Irises

Iris reticulata 'Gordon', Jan 2013

A punishing week at work, now followed by a debilitating bout of tonsillitis, has left me feeling less than enthused about the arrival of February and yet more chilly weather.

Having decided to be officially grumpy today, I had to quickly change my mind after spotting a pot of cheerful Iris reticulata “Gordon” (above) when I stepped out of the front door this morning.  Enough to make anyone stop feeling sorry for themselves, and a reminder that spring is now only just around the corner.

The small bulbs were planted in a small cylindrical terracotta pot back in October and they have narrowly beaten the snowdrops in the race to first flower of 2013.  I planted them quite closely and at twice their own depth in well-drained compost.  The pot was then left in a shady corner until last weekend when the buds and narrow leaves started to emerge.   They now need full sunlight, not least to show the flowers to their best advantage.  I always top-dress bulb pots with grit so that the flowers are not splashed by compost when it rains.  Following many attempts to get the same bulbs to bloom for a second year, I have learnt that it’s better to start with new ones each autumn.  If you have a sunny space in the garden to plants them in the ground, they should come back year after year.  Just make sure the drainage is excellent as these diminutive perennials hail from the Middle East and don’t appreciate being wet and soggy.

Iris reticulata 'Gordon', Feb 2013

Following just behind ‘Gordon’ in all his violet blue glory will be the demure North Sea-blue flowers of ‘Katharine Hodgkin’, which has an RHS Award of Garden Merit.  The buds are just now emerging from the grey shingle on the top of the pots.  As mine are not in bloom yet, I have appropriated this beautiful photograph from a blog called Ellis Hollow.  The aconites in the background really bring out the yellow highlights on the falls.  An uplifting sight at any time of the year.

More on irises in my next post, which I hope will be ready tomorrow.  Until then, I am wrapping up warm and popping a few more painkillers to keep those nasty tonsils under control.

Iris reticulata  'Katharine Hodgkin'