13 March 2010

early iris

Growing in a small clump at the edge of the path is Iris reticulata - I have no idea which variety it is and don't really care as they are all lovely. It grows with its roots in the sand of the path foundations and is baked by the sun every summer when dormant. It is clearly happy here sunbathing with little competition and it opens it's perky purple and blue flags early each year. Planted elsewhere in the garden as small bulbs in autumn they only flower the first spring after planting before unruly neighbours drive them out. Lovely in pots, left dry in full sun through summer, as is . . .
Iris unguicularis. This isn't a bulb but grows as a tight clump of dense rhizomes - a small clump is in full bloom on top of the gabion wall round the office. Given a site that is dry and sun- baked each summer it will flower reliably every winter opening a succession of delicately marked flowers. Like so many iris that hail from summer dry climates it grows only in the wetter cooler months, sending out new leaves and fleshy white roots with the first rains of autumn. The roots transform into brown wiry anchors and digging up an established plant is surprisingly hard work. Which is just as well as this has taken years to grow from a small donated division and I'd hate it to walk.

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