December 11, 2018

Caroline’s Garden Diaries – Iris unguicularis : 7.1.13

It’s still the very beginning of the year, when not a lot is happening in the garden. The garden is quiet, not very neat but that’s the way it is in the dead of winter. Actually, it’s scarcely dead of winter, the sun is out, it’s quite mild, birds have been singing, and the snowdrops are up with one showing just a hint of its white bud. But most exciting of all, the first bud of the Iris unguicularis has appeared!

If you know this plant, you’ll know that one day there are just leaves, and then suddenly there’s a bud, several inches tall. I’ve just picked this first one to put in a vase indoors as a treat for myself. I’m watching it now – it’ll open out in a few minutes, the inner petals gradually unfolding into the most beautiful, delicate, intricately patterned flower, and it’s sweetly-scented into the bargain.

It’s hard to believe that such a beauty prefers to flower in winter. If you don’t know this plant, I do recommend it; it’s a tough perennial, having rhizomes rather than bulbs, which you can just ignore for the rest of the year if you have it in the right place – at the bottom of a sunny wall so it can get summer warmth – but then in winter and on into spring, it’ll keep surprising you with its long elegant buds opening into these exquisite flowers.
And yes, the first bud is now fully open.

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