Iris Unguicularis
 Iris Unguicularis

Iris Unguicularis

A fabulous, but again slightly early display of iris unguicularis (formerly iris stylosa) seen at Great Washbourne the other day. Known commonly though as the Algerian iris, whoever planted these obviously had some plant knowledge! As these are in an ideal spot, on a south facing but with a sheltered aspect at the base of this wall. Like alot of irises they prefer free draining soil and to baked by the sun. These are a spectacular splash of colour at the turn of, and into the new year. They really need a dedicated border or bed, and should be treated as a feature plant. They grow to about 12 inches high with grassy evergreen leaves which can look a little untidy at times.They soon colonise their patch of soil with their rhizomatous roots. The flowers are also fragrant and can be cut and brought into the house. Iris unguicularis can be susceptible to slug damage when young and when they are getting established, so keep an eye open for those. As their common Algerian name suggests, they are natives of North Africa and South West Asia. These in the pics may be the pale Lavender "Walter butt"? , there is a purple cultivar "Mary Barnard" with the white "alba"being less common. Julie Ritchie at the Hoo Nursery near Tewkesbury, just off the A38, down from the Odessa pub always has a good selection of these to buy along with other perrenial, grasses and alpines.

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