Well, it's now three days later and I'm actually glad I waited because I had been attempting to photograph the first flowers of Iris danfordiae (it beat the snowdrop by a day). But when I went out today in the howling gale to try again, not only did I spot Iris reticulata "Halkis" bobbing away in a corner but as I moved the pots along the windowsill to cram Halkis in, who should I notice but "Katherine Hodgson?" So it's February 4 and three of my favourite genus are out already! Now, before you scoff at the amateurish nature of these photos, please remember: a ) It is VERY windy; B) I am balancing at unnatural angles with one foot between some pots of Rhododendron seedlings and the other balanced on a huge clay pot with a Lupin taking up valuable space (might have to be brutal with that fella); and c) I am an amateur!
|"Halkis" with those unique almost black ends to the petals|
All very nice and the first time I've grown it, having spotted it in some catalogue or other and deciding I had to have it. I've also been coveting the next offering for 20 years: Katharine Hodgkin is a hybrid of Iris winogradowii and Iris histrioides. When it first opens, the flowers have an ethereal color scheme that's hard to describe; a tinge of sea-green suffused with powder blue and fabulous intricate markings. It was just coming on to the market around the time my nascent Iridophilia was growing into full-blown mania but one bulb of this beauty 20 years ago would have cost you at least £30. For one bulb. And my pocket money was £5 a week. These days it has bulked up to the extent that it is quite affordable (though still the pricier end of cheap, if you know what I mean). Like all Reticulata irises it will grow anywhere except a bog but thrives in open, well-drained soil. If you have heavy clay, try digging in a bit of grit (I've discovered that pet shops - look under aquarium supplies - are a handy source of 4-6mm grit - and they deliver in quantities that don't require a crane).
|The bloom isn't fully open yet but you can get an idea of the complex markings here|
I suppose you'll want some danfordiae too now? Better be quick before the bulb does that odd thing they always do in year two and, well, disappear. I assume little ricicles form during the season and take four or five years to mature, by which time the pot has been neglected or even binned. Any theories or similar experiences? I know I'm not the only grower to have suffered this phenomenon.
Well, whether or not I see it next year, we'll just have to wait. At least with three pots I can empty one out and have a good rake around!
The Wind has knocked over Fritillaria montana which is not a disaster as half the bulb had rotted (it was left to the elements over winter, I just don't have room in the bulb frame for everything. I had been beginning to think that the Frits that had failed to show any sign of life were probably goners until I spotted a lovely, fresh green shoot poking forth from F. carica...
|Fritillaria uva-vulpis looking most acceptable!|
|F. michailovskyi multiflora|
Also got all my juno Irises in rude health, although aucheri's leaves are still looking a bit wavy at the edges. I'd put this down to a beastie and sprayed but it made no difference and as it gets larger they seem to dominate less. Is it meant to be like this? Iris stolonifera continues to go great guns as do orchiodes, zenidae and svet-something. The five bucharicas that were so incredibly healthy when I got them remain steadfastly underground. Maybe it's just because I started them a bit later than the others. They were certainly corking bulbs. Hmmm.
Oh, I've got a couple of these layered planters because if you can't go horizontally, and believe me, it's like a news editor trying to fit 2,000 words on to a tabloid page with a sidebar and nice picture up here, you must go vertically. They're brilliant, I think I might get one more.
I'm so good to you that I've limbed out the damn window in the dark to take a few photos of the the other and and example of the silicon implant (good flash too). By the way, if you buy one of either make (both sit in plastic trays) please be sure to get the drill out or, my favoured option, a phillips screwdriver and a hammer, and make plenty of drainage holes because neither tray comes with any, which is madness and WILL kill the plants in the bottom row, unless they're Gunnera manicata in which case I think you should go back and read the Ladybird book of gardening again as its 3m leaves may prove a handful in confined spaces. Speaking of handfuls...
|Lychnis x arkwright|
|I'm hoping mine doesn't get this big|
Iris/Anthurrhinium combo looking good, as are the early planting of massive Lily hybrids:
Right, it's late, I might update tomorrow with some seedling action or I might not, if there isn't any. I probably kicked it over anyway.
Would love to tell you about all my lovely seedlings such as the red Delphinium nudicaule, Primula laurentiana, Clematis Ladakhiana and many more but me have people coming round so I'll be banned from going outside in case I bring the garden back in with me so I'll save it for another post (ha, genius!)
Enjoy the spring sap rising and gardening too!