Last autumn I visited RHS Hyde Hall in Essex and brought some early spring-flowering bulbs. I was looking for a bulb with a splash of colour to plant along a path leading to my house front door. I have not been disappointed. I choose several different types of Iris reticulata in a mix of colours. The bright jewel colours are really vivid and the blue and purple ones have been in flower for a good month now and our visitors have been enjoying them too.
They look quite fragile as if a puff of wind would scatter them, but don’t be deceived – they are very tough. I. reticulata originate in the high mountains of the Middle East and cope with snow and tough conditions. Our front garden is west-facing, 500 feet above sea level and windy. At 4-6 inches in height they hug the ground, but are study, and have coped with everything storm Gertrude and the almost weekly gales during this winter have thrown at them. Frost and snow have not daunted them either.
In the wild their natural habitat is stony hillsides and scrub vegetation, with a period of snow in winter, and short dry summers, so try to plant them in a dry sunny position in free-draining soil.
I. reticulata ‘Blue Note’ is more slender and has suffered a little in the gales, but the jewel like purple blue colouring is beautiful and they too have a long flowering period. Flowering later the white and blue Iris has only been flowering for a week, but I love it. So, if your mum loves her garden – you could always buy her some bulbs and pop them in a pot to give her for Mother’s Day next year.
P.S. The other day we checked our home made Hedgehog boxes and we have definitely had hedgehog visitors.