23 May 2011

If I wave it above me like a flag, a blazoned flag?

In the past I've mentioned my mystery iris, the second of two varieties that I found growing here. The first, identified as 'Alta California,' I wrote about a couple weeks ago, but the mystery iris hadn't opened yet. Last week I snuck a photo into my Bloom Day collage, but didn't really give it much time. So it seems fair that this week I give her a proper showing. Here she is:

Mystery iris

Not very ruffled and therefore probably an older variety. Not as tall as 'Alta California' and not as showy, but it still blooms very nicely. The colour is not something I'd have chosen for myself, bronze not being my favourite colour in irises, but I don't think one should ever complain about finding random irises in the garden, and I am happy to have this one.

I have been doing some research trying to identify the variety, and think it is Sindjkha. If I'm right, then it's an old variety indeed, introduced by Grace Sturtevant in 1918.

I am not sure how she got here. Because they need to be divided every so often, irises tend to get spread around a neighbourhood. It's not uncommon to see the same iris repeated in yard after yard along a block. There are yellow irises that may be 'Alta California' in other gardens in the neighbourhood of Belfry headquarters -- I haven't gone snooping close enough to verify their identity -- so I can believe that's how 'Alta California' got into my garden. I haven't seen anything that resembles 'Sindjkha,' however. Was it a gift from a friend or family member to a prior owner of the house?

There's no way to know, of course.  I suspect both irises were stuck in quickly to be polite, and I can't imagine that either ever managed to bloom in the place where I found them. As Charlotte pointed out last week, while blooming where you're planted is a fine idea, it's easier when you're planted in the right place.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly


  1. How lovely, but how weird. On Saturday, a friend and I were hiking in the woods along the Potomac in Virginia and came across a small patch of (I'm pretty sure) these same bearded irises growing amid wild carrots and various weeds. There was a house nearby, up a hill, but its presence didn't quite explain a shocking clump of purple thriving alongside a forest trail. I like to imagine that someone put them there deliberately, long ago, just so strangers would later be surprised.

  2. How odd. Bearded irises don't naturalise the way daffodils do -- you won't find irises growing where a bulldozer happened to dump them by the side of the road, as you will the old 'Van Sion' daffodil, for example -- but they live approximately forever in a good location, so it's entirely possible that someone did plant them there deliberately.


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