I wrote a post a week ago about Iris reticulata ‘Alida’ entitled ‘Could this be the most photogenic flower?‘.
Its neighbour ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ was still at the bud stage, looking like a paintbrush:
Right on cue, when I was looking over at the blue tits on the bird feeder, boing! This happened!
They were all a little bit bleary and curled up from their long winter sleep.
Over the course of the afternoon, the petals uncurled.
Do you notice something a little strange? This Dwarf iris does not produce spikes of leaves before its flower. It is pure, unadulterated flower!
Each is a little ice sculpture.
It is the elusive colour that makes this Dwarf Iris so unusual and so alluring.
The upright ‘standard’ petals have blue ink swirls on white, with the thickness of the stripes varying. They are all soft undulation.
The ‘fall’ petals have some darker blue spots and a splodge of yellow, which fades around the edges. The ‘hood’ looks like angel wings on the flower below. It is soft delicacy and cold purity combined. An Ice Queen.
You can see the intricacy of the markings here. It reminds me of a school chromatography experiment when we made an ink spot on blotting paper and then dipped it in water. The pigments in the ink slowly separated and spread out over the blotting paper.
When all of the flowers open fully, you see more yellow from the fall petals, and the combination of yellow and blue can give the impression of palest turquoise. But only if you squint a bit.
I thought I’d just try to capture all three of these pots on my back step together. Next year I think the middle one will be filled with Narcissi, rather than tulips, so that I get three pots flowering together.
Just so she doesn’t feel left out, here is ‘Alida’ again. Oh, I love her too. Whilst ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ is icy sophistication, ‘Alida’ is a blue sky on a sunny February day.
I love it with the Moroccan blue pot behind.
Which one do you prefer?
Iris reticulata bulbs are planted in the autumn. I chose a terracotta pot that is fairly shallow and wide, but you can use any container. I mixed multipurpose compost with horticultural grit and planted the bulbs in two layers. They should be planted at least twice the depth of the bulb, but you can go deeper. Then I topped the pot with a couple of centimetres of grit, to deter moss or weeds from growing.