What’s in a name?

While there are half a dozen plants named after my home town in Devon, only one appears in the RHS Plant Finder bearing the name of the place I moved to in 1974 – iris sibirica ‘Bracknell’. It was for sale in the UK last year, but not in 2019. Fortunately, a fellow gardener had it in her garden and gave me a piece several years ago. She also supplied some of it to the local council for a garden restoration project on the edge of town, and the iris is now used as the logo for the town’s entry into ‘Britain in Bloom’.

So why is this variety so special and so rare?

Iris sibirica 'Bracknell' - 2019 - Copy

Well the colour is stunning – a dark royal blue that is best set off by a light background. But it is shy to produce the flowers; this year my plant has only carried one and most years my small clump (it has not increased much from the original planting almost ten years ago) only carries two. Are you prepared to find a place for a plant that is shy to flower and does not grow heartily? If it was not for the name, I would probably have dug it out by now, but the name has saved it from the spade.


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