1918, Varietis of Iris unguicularis E.A.Bowles

The Garden, 148, April 6, 1918

Varieties of Iris unguicularis
By E. A. Bowles, M.A., F.L.S., V.M.H.

IRIS UNGUICULARIS, so often miscalled I. stylosa, is a very variable plant, and if it is wished to obtain a good supply of its flowers in the open before Christmas, certain well-marked varieties should be planted in the most sheltered places that can be given over to them. The foot of the wall of a greenhouse facing the south is the most suitable site of all.
It is a curious fact that an early habit of flowering is correlated in this Iris with pale-coloured flowers. The white variety is often the first to throw up a flower here, and has frequently done so about Michaelmas. Thus one may expect a bud or two at any time during the following three months from the varieties sold as lilacina and marginata. These have markedly wider leaves than the ordinary type form, larger and paler flowers, and in the case of the latter there is a narrow white edging to the falls. The ordinary form has more of rosy mauve in its general ground colour than these last two, and seldom gives me many of its flowers before Christmas ; and when it comes into full bearing, in February and March, marginata may be considered as exhausted for that season, but lilacina goes on flowering to the very end of the season. The narrow-leaved forms are latest. Var. speciosa has very tall, rich purple flowers with reddish purple markings on the outside of the buds, and is a very fine form and beautiful in contrast with the others. Var. angustifolia is too small to mix in the same vase with its larger sisters; they make it look so poor. Also it is rather bluer in tone than they and does not blend quite pleasantly with them. In a separate vase its stiff little flowers are pretty and show their extra amount of white veining and marbling to advantage. They last a day or more longer in full beauty than the flowers of any other variety. The latest form to flower is an exceedingly poor one; almost ugly, in fact, and little better than I. foetidissima. It first came to me as I. pontica from Sprenger of Naples, and I was bitterly disappointed when a new Iris I bought in Holland as I. lazica, after two years of sulks, flowered and proclaimed its identity with my dingy and despised pontica. Both patches are now used to fill up a bit of ground under a Yew tree where they may grow or die as they please.

For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-11-21
Topic revision: r2 - 21 May 2016, af.83
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