Winter Irises

Iris unguicularis
The texture of these iris petals sparkles in a bit of winter sunshine.

It’s particularly vile outside at the moment. Right now we have high winds and sideways rain and there was even some short-lived snow earlier in the week. So it’s comforting to know that the early flowers have survived, despite the weather’s attempts to shred them.

I photographed these irises a few days ago, in a dry and sunny gap in the stormy weather. (The weather forecast is my friend! I keep an eye on it to know when I must dash outside and photograph flowers before they are ruined.)

These fragile-looking flowers are iris unguicularis – had to check the spelling of that one – otherwise known as ‘Algerian winter iris’.

The plant was given to me by a generous neighbour and has slowly got itself established in a sunny border. It’s a plant that grows wild in Mediterranean countries and likes dry and sunny sites, so is well-suited to our hot and thirsty garden. (But the present heavy rain is unlikely to please it.)

There have been a good number of flowers this year, with a couple of buds still waiting to open. That is a good improvement over the previous years, when there were only three or four flowers and I thought the plant wasn’t too happy where it was. I’ve read that this iris flowers better as the clump gets older and more congested, so I’m looking forward to good displays in years to come…and a good reason to be outside on a wintry day with my camera.

Iris unguicularis 4766
Iris unguicularis aka Algerian winter iris

18 thoughts on “Winter Irises

      1. Yes, they are tricky Ann but lavender-blue is perfect. I was curious if the flower is borderline between blue and mauve – sounds like it is. I’m guessing it could go either way depending on the light at the time.

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      2. It’s not really a strong blue – too much pinkiness, so it probably wouldn’t look good against a true blue. (I find that the two shades don’t mix well in my borders, which causes problems!)

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  1. I found more of our native irises blooming in the woods and ditches today. I think I’m over-eager, but I don’t want to miss them. We’ll see. Unlike you, we have a stretch of good weather coming, so it may encourage a few more blooms. I hope your weather settles, too. It seems like you’ve had nothing but wind and rain for entirely too long.

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    1. I have a vague memory (from early childhood in the north of Scotland), of seeing yellow flag irises growing in ditches – I hope they still grow there. It’s lovely to see such beautiful plants growing in the wild. πŸ™‚

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  2. It’s nice that you caught those sparkles, Ann. They aren’t always easy to capture. This has whetted my appetite for them as ours are just tiny spears sticking up from the ground right now…but there are a lot of them. πŸ™‚

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    1. That sounds like something good to look forward to, Steve! Those sparkles intrigue me…they seem to get more pronounced as flowers age. I suppose they are part of the cell structure of the petal.

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      1. Silica maybe? (Long pause…) You sent me down a Google rabbit-hole there, LOL! Didn’t understand much of what I read – plant biology is a foreign language to me – but interesting all the same. (Aha! I’ve just read that calcium oxalate crystals are common in plant tissues and play a part in light absorption and reflection… πŸ™‚ These ‘sparkles’ have been intriguing me for ages, so I’m glad I came across that!)

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      1. They were not too bad, despite the weather but they seem to be going over now anyway. Now it’s the turn of the first daffodils to try to resist the weather…hope they can!

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    1. Thanks Syd! πŸ™‚ It’s lovely to have something still in flower. There aren’t many winter and late winter flowers in the garden but I treasure those that are there. They keep my spirits up until spring arrives.

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