True Winter Bloomers

True Winter Bloomers

True Winter Bloomers are flowers in our garden which don’t just offer a wishy washy display but actually look as if they are enjoying these cold months.

True Winter Bloomers Iris Reticulata Harmony January 25th nothing much in bloom, a few Primulas and Polyanthus offering a hint of what is to come.

Hold on though, what’s this, Iris Reticulata Harmony, not just a stray flower here and there but actually in full bloom, giving a marvellous show to lift the spirits in these cold wintry days.

Iris Reticulata Harmony (3)These ones are planted in a border in the front garden near the living room window.

Growing Iris Reticulata Harmony.

Iris Reticulata require free draining soil, fortunately this is a South facing area of the garden where the clay soil had been generously improved.

Soil should be neutral or slightly on the alkaline side. Perhaps the acidic soil is the reason for failure of this plant in Aberdeen.  Mind you, they did look good in the first season after planting but they never reappeared in the following year.

Position,  said to grow North, South, East or West facing. I feel pretty sure that they are happiest of all in the sunny spot.

Reticulata grows to a height of about 15cm/6″ and in the most favoured garden spot will bloom like ours in January, they don’t last long in flower a little over two weeks on average.

Iris Reticulata Harmony (6)

P1100673We also planted a few pots up with these Iris last October.  I wont keep them in the pots which will be required for Summer plants, however I will plant the bulbs in the woodland area and will let you know if it was a success.

P1100675I am extremely happy with these dwarf Iris and feel confident of their return next year, either way I will let you know.


Its now the 5th of February and the Snowdrops are in bloom, well not quite opened up as yet in our garden as you can see.

Snowdrops nivalisSnowdrops are of course one of the true Winter bloomers I expect they will open up very soon and last a bit longer than the Iris.

PulmonariaPulmonaria, just starting to open up, in our garden it is early Spring when they give of their best.

PrimulaPrimulas start to open in the dead of Winter, rather raggedy though.  Early Spring they come into their own.

Daffodil tete e teteThe Daffodil tete e tete are starting to bloom where the sun is catching them best, those in a slightly shadier position should open soon enough.

Hellebore seedlingAn unnamed Hellebore in the woodland walk, another of the true Winter bloomers.

crocusCrocus looking rather perky in the front garden for the time of year. Where we lived in Aberdeen there was a large municipal garden area smothered in Crocus.  Only one year did I see it blooming in February, it didn’t give the usual stunning show that it usually gave when blooming in March, early isn’t always a good thing.

© 2016, Alistair. All rights reserved.

29 thoughts on “True Winter Bloomers

  1. Iris haven’t come back for me this year so I may have your Aberdeen problem. Possibly acidity, possibly water logging. They are too good not to have though, next year I’ll try them in pots and keep them drier.

  2. Hello Alistair, I’m not a fan of Iris Reticulata but I must admit that the ones you’ve photographed do look good. As we didn’t do any spring bulb planting last Autumn (we were too shattered), we have large expanses of bare soil where the bulbs would have been if we had the energy. I’m definitely missing them but I’m hoping that this Autumn, I can go for a bulb planting record for next year!

  3. What a gorgeous display Alistair. I have had success and failure with I. reticulata and after reading somewhere, I can’t remember where, that planting them deeper than recommended helps to ensure the bulbs come back each year. I have to admit, I have found that to be the case with I. reticulata Pauline in the front garden – their bulk does not seem to be diminishing. But my trial is only in its 2nd year so can’t fully testify to that fact.

  4. Hi Alistair,
    We have been very lucky with Iris reticulata in our rockery. It is very well drained and after your comments I have been wondering whether the soil is not so acidic as elsewhere. It was brought in when the patio was created. I must test it sometime. I first replanted some from an indoor pot someone gave me. Since then I have been buying corms myself. They have been returning for quite a few years now and are multiplying nicely. This year I have my first batch of Pauline in flower – they are a lovely mauve colour, more purple than the blue of Harmony. I also grew some Clairette in a pot. They are very pretty too. It was only last year I realised that there were so many different varieties of this lovely plant. It has to be one of my favourite. Now Winter Aconites, that is a different story. I planted two different varieties last Autumn (in the green) and not a sign of any of them. I am still hoping I might even get a few leaves, but it is looking less and less likely I think.

    1. Annette, I was always banging on about being unsuccessful with reticulate in Aberdeen. I have come to the conclusion that extremely free draining is essential. I must try Winter Aconites in our woodland strip.

  5. Love your yellow crocus and irises, Alister. I think these irises are bulb plants, aren’t they? How nice to see spring in your garden, mine is under the white covering.
    Happy GBBD!

  6. The blue of your dwarf iris is striking! A few years ago a swath of blue in the woodland garden caught my attention, and I discovered these beautiful blue dwarf irises. I had not planted them and had never seen them in my garden before. I was thrilled. I looked for them the next year but have not seen them since. It is a mystery to me! My Hellebores were slow to bloom this year but are beginning to open in abundance now. Winter Daphne and Edgeworthia both have buds about to open. And my poor camellias! The lovely blooms are not really hardy. They bloom whenever we get a few days of warm air, only to be zapped when the temperature plummets below freezing.

  7. As you would expect Alistair I have an identical list of genera in bloom here. My I.reticulatas tend to diminish over a period of time, I suspect mainly because of shady conditions, I do know that, like some of their bigger relatives, they need a good baking during the summer for them to thrive.

  8. I have ‘Harmony’, ‘Pixie’ and ‘J.S. Dyt’ – my experience with Iris reticularis is that they are not fussed at all. I have had some in pots for several years, just stuck under my garden bench for the summer, and they all flower beautifully the following spring. And here in my new garden they are planted in almost complete clay – and still came up this spring. Hopefully they will continue to come up but time will tell. I also plant my Iris reticularis rather deep, not sure where I heard that tip but I have always done that, both in the ground and in pots.

    I have all the winter bloomers on your list except for pulmonaria, having hellebores flowering from late December and spring flowers from late January is a treat and adds to the ‘Flowers 52 weeks a year’ in my garden 🙂

  9. those irises are a wonderful shad of blue, haven’t got them myself but I believe they’re tough. Hope your potted ones make it from captivity to the wild.

  10. I’ve been away for a few days and, on my return, notice some of my taller plants have been somewhat burnt by frost. I’ll have to take a walk around the smaller plants to check how they are doing.

    Something completely different. . . I decided it would be funny to have a ‘testimonials’ page on my blog (They always look suspicious!) and I’ve included a quote from you and a link to this blog.
    Hope this is ok and that the idea amuses you. If not, I can easily remove the quote and the link. Let me know. Best wishes. Esther Montgomery.

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