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She will always be the first

21 comments


When I first purchased Iris reticulata Katharine Hodgkin back in winter 2011/12 the owner of my favourite nursery Billy Carruthers @ Binny Plants promised me she would always be the first spring bulb to flower each year.

The first year I let them flower happily in the pots I bought them in and when flowering had finished I chose a nice sunny spot to grow them in the garden.

I had read that many folks treat these spring bulbs as annuals and it was considered that winter wet rots the bulbs. So to give them a fighting chance (as with other I. reticulata) I mix plenty of alpine grit in with the soil and lay the bulbs on a bed of the stuff too, in the hope every little helps!

What I had not bargained for was the extremely wet summer of 2012 and the fact that the dormant bulbs were under wet boggy soil for weeks on end. I had originally planted 3 pots, which would have held 3 bulbs each. When the water finally receded and the ground dried out – I found a little clump of rather damp looking bulbs minus their net covering. Iris reticulata bulbs are surrounded by a fibrous net, hence the name. I lifted them from the ground and potted them up. To be honest, I held out little hope but I had nothing too lose, did I?

Come late winter 2012 a couple of green tips popped through the surface and I was very pleased with myself but come flowering time – only one flower had developed. Seen here in February 2013 – a single powder blue bloom and a rather week stem.

When flowering was over, they were given a weak feed of tomato food a couple of times until the stems died down. Popped into the cold frame and forgotten about until a few weeks ago. The little green tips were just breaking the surface. I brought the pot out fully intending to put back under cover if frost was forecast but none came!

This year I now have 2 flowers and there are another 2 tips of green just millimetres above the surface.

It will be nice if these little beauties continue to multiply in the pots – a little long term experiment me thinks! I know that you are probably saying to yourself, why not just buy more bulbs but this way is much more satisfying!
It also goes to show that we shouldn’t give up too easily.

Billy has been proved right 2 years on the trot! These are the first bulbs to flower – mind you the snowdrops should be out in a day or two! That’s a good month earlier than last year. The garden is really enjoying the mild weather (long may it last).

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Comments

 

Good for you Scottish! you are very patient...I'm impressed!

25 Jan, 2014

 

i have no patient at all but if i did i would been rewarded just as you have....
thank you for blog i found it very useful...i do hope they continue to multiply for you..

25 Jan, 2014

 

Seems if we used more grit it would be a good idea too.
Never know what summer 2014 will bring for all plant life.
Thank you Scottish for your interesting blog.

26 Jan, 2014

 

i am also impressed seems dedication is the word i would be a bulb in your garden and hope for the kiss of life and a big smacker to boot ochaye xxx steve

26 Jan, 2014

 

Thank you for this as it explains why mine have never reflowered as they were put out in the garden first year I had them.

26 Jan, 2014

bjs
Bjs
 

Well done you, well impressed as I have little success with them here.
Seems we need to be prepared to change with nature I find I am using far more sand and grit than ever before.

26 Jan, 2014

 

I've foliage poking through but no sign of the flowers yet. they are looking good and strong though.

I love the delicate colour of them too.

26 Jan, 2014

 

I love this little iris and luckily don't have any problem growing it in the garden probably because my soil is very stony and well drained. Mine are in bud now but the first to actually flower is Iris 'George'.

Well done to you Scottish for your perseverance, they are definitely worth all your efforts.

26 Jan, 2014

 

Its very pretty and hope it continues to reward you for a long time, they always say patience is a virtue Scottish and yours is paying off.....

26 Jan, 2014

 

Well done Scottish, great when things like that pay off!! no sign of ours they are in alpine sinks, which thank goodness have been covered up since October.........wonderful plants.

26 Jan, 2014

 

Well done Scottish. I think it's always worth a try with any bulb or plant. Nothing to lose but everything to gain. They are lovely flowers.

26 Jan, 2014

 

(Mouldy, carefully, writes 'Perseverence' in his notebook).
Goan yersel, Scottish! :-)

26 Jan, 2014

 

Great bog Scottish. That is what I like about this site - everybody is pleased with our successes and quick to offer advice when we struggle. I have nominated this for goypedia (A-Z) under irises. It is handy to look in there to see how gardeners progress as they learn from one another.

26 Jan, 2014

 

That's wonderful about the little bulbs. I would have kept them as well. It's nice to give things a chance.
Now I'll have to mix some grit with mine. They always die on me.

26 Jan, 2014

 

Hear, Hear, Scotsgran!

27 Jan, 2014

 

Hi Angie ..
so nice to see Katharine :o)))

27 Jan, 2014

 

Well done indeed! I dug my irises up and dried them off for the summer as they die left in the garden. Planted them in a pot and they are all coming up. Might try planiting them out on grit as it worked for you!

27 Jan, 2014

 

Thanks for all the likes and comments.
I'm interested Steragram - did your Iris survive being dried off? I'm assuming you replanted them in autumn of course.
I'd recommend anyone to give this ago - even with a couple of bulbs as an experiment. This method has even worked for me in the ground (not in the same wet spot as before though) - the plants are a few weeks behind and a way off flowering yet but they've come back.

28 Jan, 2014

 

so sweet :-))

7 Feb, 2014

 

Yes they did Scottish I left them in a dish in the dry until the autumn and planted them in a tub and now they are a picture again! But they are only reticulata so probably more tolerant than yours.

7 Feb, 2014

 

I've just done a wee blog on my KH. I wonder if mine survived because of the dry summer. They are looking well now. I still have them in the original pots but will plant them soon. I've taken note of your growing practise thank you Scottish.

7 Feb, 2014

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