Interest in Flag Iris is Flagging

Interest in Flag Iris is Flagging


Wild Flag Iris are easy to grow. The flowers are bright yellow, blue or purple. The seed heads show bright red seeds and are quite decorative.

Where to Plant

  • Wild Flag grow in most damp borders but look best near ponds or streams.
  • On the edge of a pond the roots will creep into the water and a large clump will grow.
  • Wild Flag Iris will flower in a shady area providing a splash of colour when other plants are over.

Growing Tips

  • Flag Iris grow from horizontally growing Rhizomes.
  • Buy plump roots without soft mushy parts. Cut foliage down to 3- 4″ before planting.
  • Keep new plants well watered.
  • Top dress in autumn with good compost.
  • Increase your stock by dividing the root in late summer after blooming has finished.
  • Sow fresh seed in late summer but it may take 3 years to bloom.

Varieties and Colours

  • Iris pseudacorus has yellow or golden blooms up to 4 feet tall.
  • Iris pseudacorus variegata has cream stripes in the green leaves.
  • Iris virginica is a small growing blue iris.
  • Iris versicolour rosea has lilac-pink flowers.

Flag Iris


Avoid Stinking Iris feotidissima

I know it is a Maple leaf and not an Iris but it amused me.

Iris in rows

Upgrading Iris
I renovated my Iris last September. The centre was woody and no longer producing flowers.
I cut out old material and planted new lengths of Rhizome in rows laid flat like a cigar.
I made sure they would get the sun by only half burying them and running rows East to West.
I will be interested to see what the result is like in a few weeks time.
It was a great way to increase my stock

Flag Iris

This year I must try to be a bit tidier when I reduce the flags to stop wind rock

Prunus & Flowering Cherry Facts

Prunus & Flowering Cherry Facts

Picnic in the shade of Cherry Trees

Botanic Facts

  • The following fruit are all Prunus species; plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and almonds. They are part of a family of 430+ species
  • Blossoms usually have five petals and five sepals
  • Fruit are categorized stone fruits or scientifically as drupes. Freestone fruits have flesh that pulls away easily from the pit, Cling-stone fruits have pulp that sticks more firmly to the pit.
  • Prunus are broadleaf deciduous trees and are some of the first  species to flower in spring.

Fastigiate Cherry with branches almost parallel to the trunk

Ornamental Facts

  • Cherry Blossom trees, are renowned for their magnificent blossoms that cover the branches in many different shades and forms.
  • Some varieties  offer stunning autumn colour, purple foliage or glossy bark.
  • Picnic under blossoming Cherry trees to enjoy their beauty whilst it lasts.
  • It is said that such picnics were ‘… originally reserved for the elite persons within society’ as shown above in the spa town of Ilkley.
  • USA and Germany even have their  own versions of the Japanese Hanami cherry blossom festivals
  • More botanic information Mume is another prunus species of Chinese or Japanese plum

‘Hybridization is an important evolutionary process that results in increased plant diversity. Flowering Prunus includes popular cherry species that are appreciated worldwide for their flowers. The ornamental characteristics were acquired both naturally and through artificially hybridizing species with heterozygous genomes. Therefore, the genome of hybrid flowering Prunus presents important challenges both in plant genomics and evolutionary biology.’ et al

Cherry blossom time strikes again in this public park. The colour is saturated until the rain comes and the ground is then saturated by fallen petals.

Cherry Picking Some Points of Note

  • I was taken with the grouping of these trees that were planted close together many years ago. The combined fluorescence is amplified in this park land setting. Still we can consider groups of various plants in our own gardens to good effect.
  • The probable shape of trees in bloom should be considered when planting along with the likely spread and height. This triangular canopy of flowering cherry’s could be thought of as a flattened cone.
  • For more growing shapes of flowering cherry trees read GTips
  • Varieties of flowering cherry trees can be found to suit most gardens but the expanse of green grass in these photographs adds contrast.

Growing Mesembryanthemum

Growing Mesembryanthemum


Description of Mesembryanthemum criniflorum

  • Often called the Livingstone daisy, Fig Marigold or the Ice Plant.
  • The leaves are juicy & succulent with a furry texture.
  • Flowers are single in a wide range of gaudy colours from white through shocking pink to orange.
  • Many flowers have light coloured centres and there are now more self colour seed packets available.
  • Plants are from the Aizoaceae family that contains a130 genera and over 1200 species that also includes Lithops

Cultivation Tips for Mesembryanthemum criniflorum

  • Sow seed February to April at 60-70F in John Innes Seed Compost.
  • Sow on surface of compost and gently firm down compost. Keep soil damp but not wet. Do not exclude light which helps germination.
  • Sealing in a polythene bag after sowing is also helpful. Germination usually takes 15-21 days.
  • When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant and grow on in cooler conditions for 10-15 days before planting out in a sunny frost free spot on light well drained soil.
  • Plants are low growing and spread 6-10″.
  • Ideal for poor soil conditions in full sun.
  • Flowers remain shut in dull weather

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Corkscrew Hazel

Corkscrew Hazel

Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

  • Corylus avellana Contorta is also known as Harry Lauders Walking Sticks or Corkscrew Hazel
  • This is a slow growing deciduous shrub that can grow to 20′ high when mature.
  • Yellow catkins droop from bare twisted stems in February before small green leaves appear. I have never collected any nuts from my tree. Propagation is best done by layering branches.
  • Corkscrew Hazel has a distinctive appearance with curious, twisted branches but occasionally throws upright succors. I have just pruned out my succors from the graft. I got 10 long straight poles of hazel to use as supports.
  • The shrub is very hardy and easy to grow. I was given mine from a neighbor about 10 years ago. ‘Contorta’ has earned an RHS Award of Garden Merit
  • A superb feature for winter borders, woodland areas and oriental planting schemes.
  • Corkscrew Hazel looks best in winter and from February-March there are pendant male catkins on the bare branches.
  • When in leaf the mid green leaves show an ugly deformed appearance.
Drinks Industry without Farmers and Gardeners

Drinks Industry without Farmers and Gardeners

”3 Hearty Cheers for Gardener’s Drinks”

Update to post 7 Feb 2011

More Garden Drinks That Cheer

  • How could I miss my favourite home grown alcoholic beverage Cider. I am in too much hurry to wait for home brewed cider and buy copious quantities made from UK grown apples.
  • Following that theme there is numerous fermented fruit and garden produce to make home made wine and tisanes.
  • Plum brandy, Potato potcheen and other distilled liqueurs owe there existence to garden produce
  • Lastly but not least, hops and malted barley make a fine drink when combined with yeast.

”1. Tea – Camellia sinensis

A native of China, tea leaves  were delivered around the world in Clipper ships, created the furore at the Boston Tea Party during the American war of independence and still provides badly paid work for workers in India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and China.

The small trees have been grown in China for over 4000 years. They are  generally pruned to a low bush to encourage more bud and leaf thus making picking easier. It is the young leaves and buds that are used to make the tea. Black tea, Green tea, Oolong and even White tea are made from the same plant, the difference is in the oxidisation during drying.

Camellia sinesis is related to our floral camellias but it is the leaves not the flowers that they are grown for. The plants grow and produce well even up to 1500 meters in the Himalayan foothills and mountains of south east Asia.

Char ladies made tea for umpteen tea breaks and many a soldier had his Chai to drink from a metal cup. That is nothing to the reverence of the Tea ceremony of Japan and China

2. Coffee  – Coffea arabica or robusta

Of 90 different species of coffee plant arabica is the most economically important accounting for 70% of world coffee production. Originally from Yemen and Ethiopia the plant was therefore named arabica by Linneaus in 1753.

Coffee trees produce red or purple fruits called “cherries” that contain two seeds, the so-called “coffee beans”. These seeds are then roasted and ground to make our Latte, Americano or Espressos. Brazil, Columbia and Java are now large producers of coffee on trees that can continue to produce for 50 years.

The first coffee houses were recognised as such in Venice in the 17th century but had previously operated in Turkey and Arabia as meeting venues. With the advent of the Starbucks this institution and coffee consumption has gone global.

A shame the producing countries and millions of subsistence farmers do not seem to get a fair share of the financial gains.

3. Grape – Vitis vinifera

Vitis grow on vines or Liana and the fruit is known as a grape. The berries ripen dark purple to blackish from a small, pale wax bloom. In wine making the length of time the skin is left with the juice will dictate the colour.

The red skin contains the tannins and oxidising chemicals that make good red wine. There are 60 species of Vitis in cultivation and whilst the Northern hemisphere is the origin there are now good vineyards in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

Vitis vinifera has been dated to over 130 million years ago with the human relationship to the plant dating from the Neolithic period. Ancient Egyptians ate grapes, made wine and recorded vines in hieroglyphics.The Greeks brought wine to the western world and who can forget images of Roman orgies where wine and grapes took their part.

‘And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
‘I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine’.

The only one of the liquid triumvirate that will grow in the UK is the grape although Cornwall may boast an occasional Camelia senesis”

The Homemade Cidermaking Bible: [3 IN 1] From Apples to Excellence | Mastering the Art of Home Cider Making with Professional Tips and Techniques link

Iris foetidissima Stinker For Valentines Day

Iris foetidissima Stinker For Valentines Day

This is not the Iris for Saint Valentines Day! There are sweeter smelling plants but the seed heads of Iris foetidissima are a striking orange at the end of the season when there is less colour in the garden. Before opening the seed heads swell to a bulbous green head that cracks open to reveal masses of red, orange or yellow berries that the birds seem to leave alone of long periods well into winter.

The sword like leaves are very tough and this iris can thrive on neglect. Eventually clumps need chopping down as the centre becomes congested. Dead leaves need tidying but this Herbaceous UK native is evergreen.

Limniris – Stinking Iris Series

  • Plants with strong smells are often using the aroma to attract pollinators.
  • What is unpleasant to some people can be OK to others.
  • Iris foetidissima citrina is a pale yellow and brown flowering form
  • This is the only Iris that can be recommended for dry shade even under a tree.

Knock Knock?

  • Who is there
  • Iris
  • Iris who
  • Irish stew in the name of the law
Iris From Bulbs

Iris From Bulbs

For that ‘light bulb moment’ consider the two main species of Iris that will grow from bulbs. Bulbs are generally cheap and easy to grow. The bulbs are often packed in 10’s or 50’s so you can grow a group of Iris together or grow extra for cutting.
The main sorts are Iris reticulata and Dutch Iris but there are also some other bulb species to look out for.

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

  • The Iris bulbs growing in the photo above are a series of low growing, early spring flowering plants named after people like George, Natasha, Joyce, Gordon and Pauline.
  • Iris reticulata are early flowering Iris that usually appearing from late winter to early spring. The blooms vary from pale blue to deep violet with central yellow splashes down the middle of each petal.
  • These Iris are useful for growing from bulbs in pots or in rockeries.
  • Plants are low growing at around 6 inches tall.

Dutch Iris

  • Dutch Iris flower a bit later, than reticulata bulbs, in early June.
  • Dutch Iris are winter hardy and can also be grown in a cool greenhouse for cutting
  • The flowers are on strong stems 20-32 inches tall.
  • Oriental beauty is one of my favourite varieties shown below
  • Cream Beauty, Royal Yellow and White Excelsior are varieties that avoid the natural Iris colours of purple and blue.
  • Plant Dutch Iris bulbs every 3-6 inches or dig a wider hole and put 3 bulbs in together. Cover with 3″ of soil.

June garden 040 Iris reticulata

Tips for Growing Iris from Bulbs

  • The preferred method is to plant the bulbs in October 5-10cm (2-4in) apart at twice their own depth in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade.
  • Most types of soil will suffice for one year for these bulbs. The flowers are already inside the bulb waiting to escape so they are almost foolproof in the first year.
  • Divide congested groups July to September after the narrow leaves have died down.
  • Try growing some bulbs indoors for early flowering by forcing. This is what florists do with Dutch Iris varieties.
  • Iris will grow well in pots or containers but if you want them to flower successfully next year they need a deep 8 inche root run to build up strength .
  • The dark blue goes well with snowdrops and they flower at about the same time.
  • Iris look good in rockeries and the top of walls.

June garden 038 Iris reticulata

Growing Other Iris Variety from Bulbs

  • Mixed bulb packs can give you a good show but look for Iris reticulata J S Dyt reddish purple or Natasha white with green veins and a yellow blotch.
  • Iris danflordiae flowers bright yellow 4″ tall.
  • Iris Histroides ‘George’ flowers are a plum purple and Katherine Hodgkin light blue with yellow crests and dark spots both 6″ tall.
  • Iris bucharia grow about a foot tall in yellow and white.
  • Iris lactifolia are ofter called the English Iris naturalise quite well

Iris joker

Useful Links
British Iris Society over 100 years old and going strong

Iris B

George Iris

Dutch Iris or Iris reticulata are small bulbs for pots or rockeries.
Flag Iris are big and blousy and grow from Rhizomes.
These pictures of different Iris are grown from bulbs.

Iris B

The reticulata group produce narrow, triangular leaves and a single, slender bloom per bulb.
Flowers are principally in shades of blue and purple, often with an attractively contrasting orange or yellow mark at the top of the fall.
Iris histrioides ‘George’ is proving to be a good Iris shown top.

Iris Frans Hals

Iris Franz Hals above or you could try the unusual Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ below. Its exotic colouring of cream overlaid with a blend of light yellow and greeny-blue comes from its parents.

Iris joker

One of the earliest flowering bulbs is this Iris Reticulata. It makes a lovely rockery bulb. It is low growing, though the flowers are as beautiful as anything you might see in summer. The foliage is also delicate and attractive.

The flower can vary in colour from this deep purple to yellow like below.

Tips for Growing Iris Reticulata

Plant in autumn at a depth of *2 or *2.5 the bulb height. They aren’t too fussy, though a good drained soil helps. To make the most of the flowers, try planting with a layer of light coloured gravel. This helps prevent soil splashing the flowers and also shows off the dark coloured flowers better.

These photos were taken at St John’s College Oxford on 17th February. They are in a rockery above ground level, which helps you to appreciate their beauty.


We are covered in snow and the small local roads are blocked. At least the snow is providing a blanket for the early spring bulbs to continue developing. One of my favouirite blooms is that of the Iris in this case grown from a bulb. Later on the rhizomas varieties will also add colour to the garden but in the meantime I eagerly anticipate the arrival of my Iris.


The outer petals are called the falls and on some varieties the ‘beard’ shows here with small hairs. The upright part are the ‘Standard’ which are most striking on Flag Iris.

One of the earliest flowering bulbs is this Iris Reticulata. It makes a lovely rockery bulb. It is low growing, though the flowers are as beautiful as anything you might see in summer. The foliage is also delicate and attractive.

The flower can vary in colour from this deep purple to yellow like below.

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Iris is the Rainbow Goddess

Iris is the Rainbow Goddess

Iris reticulata

Iris flowers are named after the Greek Goddess of the rainbow, which is appropriate for their extensive range of colours.

There are many different varieties of Iris The most common is the German Bearded Iris’ which include a range of different cultivatars.

  • Provided they are grown in a suitable location, Iris provide a good low maintenance display.
  • The main thing is to ensure the soil has good drainage. If the bulbs become waterlogged there is a risk of the bulb rotting. (apart from the varieties which are grown on pond edges.
  • Iris enjoy full sun or partial sun.
  • The Iriz rhizomes should be planted at or just above soil level.
  • Iris bulb varieties should be planted 2-3 times the depth of the bulb size.
  • I. unguicularis is a good variety for offering flowers in early winter when flowers are rare. These need a sheltered, sunny and free draining spot.

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Stonking Good Blue Flowers

Stonking Good Blue Flowers


True blue flowers are hard to find in many gardens although Purple, Lavender, Lilac, Mauve and Violet exist in many shades. Since there are no true blue Roses, Peonies, Dahlias, Daffodils or even Tulips these showy flowers are out. So if you find a good strong blue then stick to it and use it with great abandon.

This Delphinium was in our garden 20 years ago when we arrived and it has given great service. Unlike my spade that has had 2 new blades and 6 new handles the Delphinium is the original stock. Give or take an occassional cutting it is as new each summer with its tall spires of the strongest, clearest blue you could desire.

Good blue plants include Ceanothus impressus, Corydalis flexuosa and the Gentians. In bulbs there are blue Muscari, Chionodoxa  and the Agapanthus. Hydrangea macrophylla Blue Wave is one of the bluer hydrangea but most plants labeled or called blue are pale imitations.

If your favouirite plant is missing from this list let me know.

Light blue variety of Ceanouthus. There are some good dark blue varieties.



Gentiana The dark blue to indigo flowering Gentian.