Not many plants break the rules when it comes to flower colour. Fewer still manage to do it successfully:’ blue’ roses for example. Just occasionally one stumbles upon a flower which does things differently and succeeds; let me introduce you to Iris reticulata ‘Katherine Hodgkin’. To begin with, the background of her petals are an unusual acidic primrose, more green than yellow. Then come flashes of saffron yellow and delft blue, layered on in painterly strokes. These petals are known as the ‘falls’ and the area of deepest colouring as the ‘signal patch’. Each bloom has raised central petals, or ‘style arms’, which are a delicately veined powder blue. The whole flower has an alluring air of antiquity, as if it had started to fade from an earlier brilliance. To my mind the combination is utterly unique, very beautiful and best appreciated in isolation from other flowers; then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you make of Miss Hodgkin?
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