All keen gardeners look foward to the new year with a sense of anticipation. Early spring sorts the optimists from the pessimists – those who look foward to the first blooms, welcoming the frontrunners in the flowering calendar, and those who decry their precociousness, heaping doom and destruction from the fickle weather on their temerity to flower at such an unfavourable time. Of course there are risks at this time of year, but some plants are born risk-takers, daring to attract the early, hungry pollinators, offering their rewards in return for early fertilisation and ripening of seed for the next generation. You have to be tough if you want to succeed.
According to the RHS website, Iris histrioides ‘George’ is “a dwarf, bulbous iris to 12cm in height in flower, with linear leaves and fragrant, deep violet-purple flowers 8cm across, marked with yellow in the falls, in early spring.” A picture is much more descriptive:
This is ‘George’, opening the first buds in late January here in east Berkshire, UK. The first half of January had been relatively mild and settled, although the second half of the month turned colder and more unsettled. In February, we were in for a shock – four inches of snow fell overnight, blanketing the garden and giving ‘George’ a jolt. Was he downhearted, was he upset? Judge for yourself.
Totally unphased, he carried on unperturbed; as I write this, we have returend to warm sunny days and cool nights but no more snow on the horizon. ‘George’, planted deep in gritty soil in a sunny raised bed, has been growing and flowering happily for six years now and shows no sign of faltering, regardless of the spring conditions.
This gardener is an optimist, and with plants like ‘George’ to back me up , I will continue to be so.