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?