A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ (Iris cultivar)

Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.

This diminutive iris (Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’) is a member of the Reticulata Group of irises. The group includes hybrids and cultivars derived from Iris reticulata and other small species of iris.

Their blooms appear early in spring, often at the same time as the first crocuses, and stand no more than six inches high. They are easily recognized as iris flowers, with three “standards” (upright petals) and three “falls” (sepals, set below the petals), arranged in a regular, triangular pattern.close-up

Both the standards and falls of ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ are a pale blue with white streaks, and the falls carry a yellow flush and dark, speckled markings. They can be seen in the Flower Garden, in the bed along the front of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.

settingTheir companion in this next shot is glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa sardensis); its gentian-blue buds are just about to open.

the-plant

Delicate as they look, quivering in a spring breeze, these blooms withstand the freezing temperatures of a chilly March night and still look fresh in the morning sun.

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