The sun has been more in evidence during the past week. This has boosted the appearance of the spring bulbs.
In the rock garden Iris histrioides has taken full advantage of this increase in temperature and light level to put on an outstanding show of bloom. A member of the Reticulata group of Iris the uniformity of colour, shape and form give this plant an enthusiastic following and stunning reviews.
The rich blue is complemented by yellow marking on the falls. A native to Northern Turkey where it grows on mountainsides at c.1500m.
Also in full bloom is Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, whose flower colour is more of an acquired taste. Very much influenced by the quality of light, it can be seen one day, disliked and dismissed. Yet on a second sighting in a different light will be appreciated as a well selected cultivar of I. winogradowii. An unusual colour to describe, a grey-yellow with distinctive mottling. I believe the larger the group the more acceptable the colour is. I would advise against planting only a few.
The true species I. winogradowii is planted nearby, as yet in tight bud just showing yellow. Found in the Caucasus Mountains it hybridises readily with I. histrioides and the above cultivar is the result of a liaison between the two.
Raised by E.B.Anderson (1895 – 1971) a past president of the Alpine Garden Society at his garden in Lower Slaughter, deepest Gloucestershire in the early 1960’s. He named it after the wife of a friend; Eliot Hodgkin. Foliage in both species is held below the flowers which reach c.150mm.