Daily Flower Candy: Iris ‘Blue Note’ and Iris ‘Painted Lady’

I planted so many pots with bulbs before Christmas that I’ve had to bring them on in serried ranks down the side of both paths that lead to my house. It’s not a glamorous solution, but in a tiny space one learns to make use of every nook and cranny. Sheltered beneath walls and fences, my pots are kept relatively warm and cosy. When they are ready to flower they will be moved into position near the front and back doors, where I can enjoy them. There are large quantities of tulips, narcissi, hyacinths, irises and ipheion, all in terracotta.

I have not been attending to my garden especially regularly since Christmas, so imagine my delight when I discovered that two pots of Iris reticulata were already in full bloom. The first, I. ‘Painted Lady’ (above), has suffered with the unusual amount of rain that’s fallen over the last few weeks. The white blooms are meant to be marked with ‘painterly splashes’ of blue. They look washed-out to me, reminiscent of an ink-stained handkerchief that’s been rinsed under a tap. Perhaps given a little more sunshine the markings would have developed to become more definite. ‘Painted Lady’ is a little anaemic for my taste, but no doubt pretty alongside a pale yellow aconite such as Eranthis hyemalis ‘Schwefelglanz’. I am not sure the flowers gladden my heart enough for me to grow them another year.

It does not help that ‘Painted Lady’ is sitting alongside I. ‘Blue Note’, which is a dashing thoroughbred of a miniature iris; dark, rich and elegant, the way I like my men. ‘Blue Note’ has been the subject of Daily Flower Candy once before, but I make no excuse for featuring it a second time. The intense, indigo and violet petals come alive in winter sunshine, sparkling like sapphires, whilst the tips of the long ‘falls’ are a velvety black with splashes of pure white and yellow. Strong colouring makes ‘Blue Note’ an idea companion for snowdrops and small narcissi such as ‘Tete-a-Tete’. The flowering period is brief, but extremely welcome when most other bulbs are only just poking their heads above the surface of the ground. I always plant the bulbs in shallow pans that can be placed on the garden table or doorstep for closer inspection. A covering of gravel or coarse grit protects the diminutive blooms from muddy rain splashes. Vibrant harbingers of spring, Iris reticulata varieties are bulbs one can never plant enough of. TFG.

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21 thoughts on “Daily Flower Candy: Iris ‘Blue Note’ and Iris ‘Painted Lady’

    1. I always recommend it. It looks neat, hinders slugs, snails and vine weevils, keeps in moisture, stops muddy splashes and shows off the flowers better than bare compost. In my garden the weight is also helpful to stop pots blowing over.


  1. I have grown ‘Painted Lady’ too this year. I rather like her, she does look as if she has been splashed with paint. But I love all these little Iris reticulata, they are all little gems.

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      1. I’ve grown my little irises in the greenhouse this year so they are unblemished and they flower early. Maybe Painted Lady looks better inside on the staging where you can appreciate her lovely markings.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. Every year I wish I had planted more bulbs. This year is no exception. Problem is, I don’t have time to do it. My last tulips will go in this weekend ……. pause while struck by lightening …… which worked last year, and meant I had tulips in flower until late May. Meanwhile you have wonderful roses and dahlias to enjoy.


  2. Lovely to see such vibrant colour at this time of year. Just read your comment above about tulips – I have some I didn’t get round to planting last year, too! I wasn’t going to bother planting them, but I’ll try to do it this weekend and see what happens.

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    1. Provided the bulbs are sound – i.e. plump and healthy – they will be fine, even if they have 1”-2” shoots on them. I had one variety last year that was so confused it was almost flowering the moment it broke through the surface of the soil, but the rest grew and flowered quite normally. Planting them now is better than wasting them, but I wouldn’t leave it long!

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  3. Thanks Dan I always wondered that with those row homes in the UK. If I would come home from a bar, more than tipsy, how would I know which home was mine. They all look alike. When tipsy, well. I bet I would upset a few people, delight a few more?

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  4. Wow! The ‘Painted Lady’ is really excellent! The colors are like those of the old ‘Los Angeles’ and ‘San Francisco’ bearded iris. They are closely related, and ‘Los Angeles’ is just a bit lighter than ‘San Francisco’. I do not think that the name ‘Los Angeles’ fits a subdued iris, but ‘San Francisco’ is a fitting name for the color.

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    1. I’m glad you like her Tony. I shall give her a second glance at the weekend. During the week I get up in the dark and get home in the dark, so I don’t see what’s going on in the garden from one Sunday until the following Saturday. Roll on spring and longer days!

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  5. Beautiful! I had a mystery plant pot left under a table that I couldn’t identify last year except that it was a bulb, and I thought about laying it to rest, but put it on the table instead. I forgot all about it, then about 2 weeks ago, this stunning, violently blue vision popped open – such a colour it looked superimposed! We’ve had tall iris in the garden for years because they do alright in our wet clay, but I’ve no idea where this little mystery came from! Now it’s gone more purple, I think it’s a dwarf harmony, but it really was a shocker when it first opened.

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