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.