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Iris Katharine Hodgkin — 49 Comments

  1. Looked up Katherine Hodgekin for advice about how to take the flower heads off after flowering. As it would seem that how you take the heads off hyacinath by pulling them off the stem once all flowered like taking seed heads of grass from the bottom up. This is to prevent the stem getting too much water in on hyacinths and rotting the bulb. I just thought someone would how the best way so my lovely Katherine’s keep flowering. This is their third year. they spend their time in pots and after flowering they are placed against the side wall of my house South facing, given more top grit and fish blood and bone. I have three pots the first year only 2 showed to each pot, last year 4 to each and this year 9 to 10 to each shallow pot.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Pam. I may be wrong but some how or another I get a strong feeling that you would not be the type who would have sold their granny for sixpence.

  3. Sorry I haven’t visited lately, Alistair. Love Katharine Hodgkins and wish I could grow her, but I don’t have too much luck with iris. I wish someone would offer me a freebie like your lanterns — well, I did have a Scottish grandmother. Now I’m going to look over the rest of your postings that I missed. P. x

  4. Sunil, I don’t know that one about the Scotsman, but I can imagine what it is. In fact that’s probably how the grand canyon came to being a Scotsman searching for his five pence. Today is the first in two weeks that it has been comfortable enough to work in the garden. Its been far too cold although here in the city we didn’t see much of the snow.

  5. Hi Alistair, I won’t mention the joke about the Scotsman, the 5 pence piece and the Grand Canyon then. Hope your iris survive the latest Winter has thrown at us. The lanterns look nice but they would stick out somewhat in my garden. I’m currently after obelisks/wigwams for clematis at the moment, but at this rate, a patio heater for the garden might be a better investment!

  6. Thanks for updating me on tulips. The ones we used to plant here were indeed hybrids and your comment gives me some insight on the problems with tulips. I do think they are most lovely in the springtime with bright blooms dancing in the wind but it doesn’t work in middle Georgia. I guess we are compensated by the fact we can grow magnificent Camellias in our climate and enjoy those blooms from late fall to mid Spring. Enjoy your blog very much – interesting to know what people plant in other parts of the world. Your pictures of your garden are just so lovely. I’m envious!

  7. Carolyn, naturalising Tulips can be left in the ground. Most of these hybrids deteriorate after the first year, reasonable success can be achieved if planted deeply but you will find most people treat them as annuals.

  8. I was surprised to learn you treat tulips as annuals. I would have thought with your colder climate they would do well there. Down South here in Georgia in the US, especially from the mid state where I live on further down, tulips are a rarity. I used to plant some 200 yearly for the show but they only would last about week/10 days and would have to be pulled up, discarded, new ones planted the next year. It began to be not worth the work even though they were beautiful. Enjoy your blog very much.

  9. Just came across your blog Alistair and what a joy and pleasure to see your stunning Katherine Iris .

    I have just come back from a beautiful holiday in Singapore hot and humid and beautiful flowers but as they dont have season.I so missed seeing spring flowers.

    And have now come home to snow.

    I am an Aberdonian but dont live there now .

  10. Hi Alistair! Those iris really look good and I love the blue pot behind! 🙂
    They are somehow too short things to cope with at this time of the year, I guess I wouldn’t even notice them in yhe ground but keeping them in pots as annuals sounds very clever, I might do something similar next year…

  11. Just my experience, they do really well in pots. Short arms deep pockets, very good, forgot about that one. Of course we do know how untrue it all is. In fact the tight Scot thing all comes from the Glasgow owners of tobacco plantations in America in the 1700s, claims are made they were, shall we say rather ruthless in their quest for riches.

  12. I’m with you over Iris Reticulata – at least in borders. But I find them quite reliable in pots. This, and people’s different experiences with them makes me wonder whether predation by mice or even by slugs isn’t part of the problem. Certainly, Fritz Kohlein, author of ‘Iris’ (an exhaustive and exhausting book) suggests that mice and voles love to eat them. But a good baking in hot summer sun (we’d be so lucky!) is no doubt the true secret. Last year, I took some photographs ( http://gardeningattheedge.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/under-the-volcano/) of what looked like Iris reticulata growing wild in Sicily – I imagine that climate suits them rather better than Scotland.
    You know what they say about Aberdonians….’Short arms, deep pockets’
    The snow’s now about a foot deep here 🙁

  13. Your irises are lovely, the picture of them with the snow is really pretty. I enjoy irises too, my only complaint is their bloom period is too short (and some of them multiply way better than they bloom). I had a lot of fun reading your post about lanterns, I bet a Mercedes one is next 🙂

  14. Those irises are so delicate and lovely. My wild irises are just now coming up in the perennial bed. Our winter has been very cold, and it is snowing now just a few days before the official start of spring. I am anxious for spring but seeing those delicate and soft snowflakes fall is so beautiful.

  15. Katharine looks lovely in the snow. How rude that anyone should question her parentage. I have to say that the lanterns were cheaper than I guessed – I hope they are rainproof.

  16. LOL I am laughing so hard at your humour Alistair. They asked me too if I would write about them – sadly I had to say no as it would create a conflict of interest on my part……but they are such beautiful lanterns.

    Well you already know what my Katharine ones look like! they are jammed packed and need thinning out. Mine grow next to the pedestrian path which gets baked in the summer months……….well they should as it’s southwesterly…….but I doubt they were baked in last years scottish summer! While my blue ones are now just two flowers this year and I didn’t even bother to photograph the flowers for GBBD.

  17. I had some of these one year, but they never returned. I was glad to read that it wasn’t just me! After reading Donna’s comments, I wonder if mine were too wet in the summer (I have to water in the summer). I like how you’ve got yours planted in pots. This would be a better way to control their environment, too. As for the lanterns, I really like them! I could actually imagine them in my garden, so I think you did a great sales job – and I loved the honest approach. I hope you get an offer of a free Mercedes, too! 😉

  18. I have a lot of problems with these irises too. I have tried them in many different locations without much success. I planted 10 each of Pixie and George in fall 2011. They always come up the first year, and they were beautiful in late winter 2012. Right now I have one Pixie back and two George.

  19. I hear this a lot Donna, which makes me think there is another factor to play regarding this. I have followed the planting instructions on reticulata and tried them many times over the years without success. In fact Harmony which I planted in the border in October of 2011 failed to flower even in the first season. Yet the ones I planted in containers at the same time and left outdoors bloomed successfully.

  20. Donna, Like other gardeners I have so much to do, cant wait to get stuck in. Did you notice I have my website link thing sorted out.

  21. Astrid, I have decided that when these bulbs go over I will plant them in the garden. Feedback I am getting is that they are tougher than other reticulatas.

  22. Hi Helene, I think regardless of the time you plant them in Autumn they will still bloom much the same time as the snowdrops. I pot them up in early October.

  23. Alistair, Iris Reticulata is number one on my plant wish list, after seeing so many wonderful pictures of it this spring I could kick myself for not ordering last autumn when I had the chance. There are just too many to choose from in those catalogues, but now that I have seen the photos and heard how reliable they are I am certainly going to get some this autumn. How late do you plants yours, in containers? I don’t want them to come up too early, we often have quite warm weather in November and December.
    And thanks for the info about the lanterns, your list made me smile!
    Have a great Sunday!

  24. Hi Alistair
    Katharine Hodgkin is such a little beauty! Gorgeous variegation and subtle blue colouring. My favourite shot is of them in the snow – tough little things!
    Iris reticulata is one of my earliest bulbs to bloom but we’re still a long way off from seeing them. More snow in the forecast this week.

  25. You garden looks so pretty in the snow, but I know you are itching for Spring weather. I like the small iris, especially their photo in the snow. The lanterns are very nice and it was wonderful they sent them to you to advertise. You did them fine.

  26. Donna, I am beginning to wonder if I have been mistaken in thinking Katharine Hodgkins would behave in our garden like other Reticulatas. Perhaps as Angie suggested she is tougher.

  27. Alistair you have hit upon my favorite iris reticulata in Katharine….she indeed does multiply here in the ground and she looks stunning in your pots. I am awaiting her appearance as we have snow too and spring seems to be delayed this year. The lanterns are handsome and I like your solicitation list! But I adore the pictures of Katharine especially wearing her coat of snow the best.

  28. Janet, I think Katharine Hodgkin’s photographs very well and seems to last longer in flower than the other reticulatas. I am fond of the deep coloured ones though.

  29. Angie, I wouldn’t concern yourself with folks thinking we are tight, I am sure they will recognise tongue in cheek stuff, (wont they) Really interesting that your experience with Katharine Hodgkins is so different. Mind you I did mention that others may have a different experience with them.

  30. Mark and Gaz, we also can get mild spells in March, last year it reached 18c. Mind you the rest of the Spring and Summer was a wash out.

  31. Frances, I was surprised to see snow as severe in Sussex at this time of year. Expecting to hear from others who have success in naturalising reticulata which will get me wondering what I am doing wrong.

  32. Hi Alistair, I think you are right, treat ‘reticulata’ as annuals and plant them in small pots where you can enjoy them up close. I’m not actually a huge fan of ‘Katherine’, I prefer the deep purples and blues, but they are wonderful flowers and I missed them this year. Nice job on the review – I need to get mine done too, I think there will be quite a few floating around out there!! Good marketing…

  33. lol Alistair I wish you luck with the Mercades 😉
    they do look like nice lanterns but no good where I live as they would probably cost more to deliver than buy that’s even if they could be delivered, the island are a no go area for many companies, and if they where in the garden they’d probably be blown away in winter ….. I imagine they look very nice in your garden,

    I like your Irises, I have found they don’t last more than 2 years here so gave up, I have too much ground to fill so plants have to work for their place by multiplying, when I was in town last week the little shop that sells plants had just had a delivery of Skimmers in all sizes and so I bought a small one, thanks for the info,

    my son lives in Sussex and spent Monday night in a B&B in Brighton as he could not get home due to snow! we only had a bit here, mostly sleet, nothing settled, keep warm, Frances

  34. Usually we get a warm spell in March, even if chills do return again between then and late May at least here. But looks like its going to be a cold whole of March, no signs of warmth yet on the horizon.

    Katharine Hodgkin is our favourite Iris!

  35. Katherine is my favourite Alistair. I’ve read somewhere that the bulbs really need to dry out and and bake during the summer but as mine came through constant flooding I’m not entirely sure that’s correct. I was telling my local nursery that I got them through flooding and he told me that Katherine was the most dependable of them all. Strange that you can’t treatment them as perennials. I know a gardener further north than you and the always come back in his garden too. Maybe you’ll have to sing to them 🙂
    Lanterns are nice and that freebie really done the trick if you are buying more so they probably won’t insist on sending them back. Your giving us Scots a bad name saying we are tight!

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