one of my grandchildren is named after this beautiful flower, so it will forever have a special place in my heart
STORIES · 16.02.22
Garden | Mindful Living
I have been drawn to the iris family of flowering plants ‘iridaceae‘ for as long as I can remember. I love seeing different varieties throughout the year, but particularly the iris reticulata bulbs which flower in early spring – serving as a welcome reminder that sunshine and warmer days are just around the corner. I recently learned that the genus was named after the greek goddess Iris who carried messages from the gods of Olympus to earth along the rainbow – leaving colourful flowers wherever she set foot. One of my grandchildren is also named after this beautiful flower, so it will forever have a special place in my heart.
Crocus also fall within this family, and they are another of my favourite early spring blooms, which grow well in borders, banks or pots. I am lucky enough to have an aptly-named ‘crocus bank’ at home, covering the lawn in a beautiful lilac carpet. Their bright yellow stigmas are a wonderful source of pollen for honeybees early in the season. This year we added 40,000 iris Blue Note to the bank, creating a colourful combination of two of my favourite spring bulbs.
I particularly love all the different varieties of iris reticulata at this time of year, including the pretty pale Alida, deep indigo Harmony, and the intricately yellow-speckled Katharine Hodgkin pictured below. They make wonderful houseplants too, so we often divide the clumps and pot them to bring inside, adding colour and life to the house by arranging them on mantelpieces, windowsills and tabletops. These can then be planted back out in the garden, making them a sustainable alternative to cut flowers.
the iris reticulata bulbs which flower in early spring serve as a welcome reminder that sunshine and warmer days are just around the corner
I look forward to my iris popping-up every year, so I thought it would be helpful to share some tips from Daylesford’s Plant Manager Maxime on how you can nurture some in your own garden:
- To enjoy an early spring display, the ideal time to plant your bulbs is September or October. Depending on the weather, they will then flower in late winter – just as the days start to feel a little longer. Don’t worry if you have missed the boat this year – we have lots of flowering potted plants available to buy in the Daylesford garden space, which can be planted in your garden if you would like to enjoy their blooms now.
- Both iris and crocus like to be planted in full sun – preferably in well-drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH. They grow well in pots or if planted straight out into the garden, with the bulbs able to resist temperatures as low as -15 degrees celsius.
- Spring bulbs are wonderfully low maintenance, and will return year after year if planted in a nice sunny spot. If planting crocus, be sure to keep an eye out for pests such as mice and squirrels, and slugs and snails for iris.