For two years in a row I have waxed lyrical about Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, a reticulated hybrid with bleached denim-blue flowers that remind me of the ghastly jeans I cherished in the 80s. This year, for a change, I thought I would try out a sister cultivar, Iris ‘Sheila Ann Germaney’, to see if I could spot the difference. As it happens it wasn’t that difficult. I. ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ (pictured below) has a pronounced primrose-yellow flush to the reverse of the falls. This unusual colouring is the result of hybridisation between Iris winogradowii (with pale yellow flowers) and Iris histrioides (with pale blue flowers). The result is what one might call ‘pale and interesting’.
I. ‘Sheila Ann Germaney’ is the progeny of the same parents, but bears flowers of a much truer Delft blue. Only in photographing them did I really appreciate the boldly streaked standards, which appear as if someone had confidently taken a fountain pen to them.
Both are very pretty flowers and I wouldn’t like to choose between them. It seems that I. ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ flowers earlier by about a month, but that could well be influenced by the season. Next year I will grow both side-by-side for good measure.
I love to hear which sister you prefer….
For chapter and verse on these bijoux bulbs, follow this link to an excellent article written by Marcus Harvey of Hill View Rare Plants in Tasmania.