Wednesday, February 29

Kathleen's arrived at last!

Some of you with good memories may have guessed who Kathleen is or maybe I should say what she is!

I've been scouring the flower bed in front on the house for signs of her as I thought that would be where she would first show her face but so far she has only managed to push her nose through the soil like this.
Then yesterday I was wandering round the garden checking out what was growing and what was still keeping me guessing when I couldn't help but spot her in all her glory in the border under the crab apple tree. She was nestling in a little dip where I am guessing that a blackbird scraped away soil during a foraging expedition. So let me introduce a fairly new addition to our garden family - Kathleen Hodgkins ...

We first saw her at Dunham Massey in their winter garden. They had large swathes of her nestling amongst a carpet of dried leaves.
We decided that we would like to give her a home in our garden too and never having seen her for sale in the garden centres we sent off for a pack. Of course suddenly she made an appearance in one of our local nurseries whilst we waited for our order to arrive. When the order did arrive we worried that we would be late planting and since then have waited somewhat impatiently for some sign that she had settled in. So it was with some excitement that I spotted the first flower. 

The three lower 'petals' are not really petals at all but sepals - the bit that protects the developing bud. If you look a first photo you can see the stripes on the sepals that will develop into this.
The markings are honeyguides which the bees and other insects use to guide them to where the nectar is stored just like the lights on an airport landing strip. The sepals are called falls and also provide a flat landing platform for insects.

The three upright petals are called standards and are the true petals. 

I spotted another flower just starting to open so I hope soon Kathleen will put on a good show which fingers crossed should get better each year!
I had heard that mini irises didn't reliably flower after first being planted and that Kathleen Hodgkins was the most reliable but having seen Mark's irises at Marks Veg Plot maybe they aren't as difficult as I thought.

Anyone else out there growing mini irises if so do you have any recommendations that I could add to our collection?


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18 comments:

  1. Sue, I don't grow any mini iris (mini "anything" would just get completely lost at Bag End) but I remember seeing iris reticulata cantab growing really well at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh so perhaps that's one you might consider.

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    1. I'll look it up BW I've plenty of time to consider as they are usually on sale late summer/early autumn

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  2. Wow!
    what a lovely flower I can understand why you would want it in your garden.

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    1. Just found out that it has the RHS award for garden merit too Cathy.

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  3. What a lovely flower. I do have a few small ones planted in the herb garden. They are a little taller then Kathleen and I really don't remember what variety they are.

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    1. Short and beautifully formed like me, Robin - well the short bit anyway!

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  4. It is a very beautiful flower Sue. I am going to be giving my front bed a make over this year as it has lots of nasty stuff growing through and the Hebe has died off in the middle and the other plants have got rangy so i am taking in all of the things you are growing and seeing what i will be able to plant out ready for a wonderful show of flowers from spring through to fall!!

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    1. I have just ordered a few more plants from Beth Chatto that I will post about when they come, Tanya. The plants that I bought for our front certainly flowered for ages. Have a look at Beth Chatto as her plants are really good value compared to some sites. You do need to know what you are looking for though as it isn't a site to browse.

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  5. Sue; I must look out for that one too. It's much paler than any of the ones I have already. Very delicate.
    My tete a tete daffs are taking over where the Irises have been now. It's a shame they don't overlap much, because the yellow and blur colour combination is very striking.

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    1. My mini daffodils are out now with Kathleen - it's seems generally freely available now, Mark - look around September onwards

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  6. She's wonderful, Sue. I love mini iris's, well, any iris's actually, yet I don't have any in my garden. I may have to rectify that this year.

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  7. I must admit I have never seen the pale blue iris before - it is delightful and quite a change from the purpley-blue ones. Let's hope it keeps reappearing every year and doesn't get dug up by mistake!

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    1. I do hope so Elaine. At the moment there is a little labels marking the areas but I can't see it remaining there. Fortunately the places where they are planted should need to much digging

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  8. Kathleen is beautiful! Iris are lovely plants.

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    1. They are Kelli - I must get some more

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  9. First time see mini iris never knew it had a mini version. Kathleen a beauty.

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    1. She is Diana and more and more flowers are now opening

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