Eye-Catching Dwarf Iris

In winter I am always impatient for spring. No garden can equal the tide of new life provided annually by nature, but I try to offer flowers when nothing is available in the forests or fields. One of my garden goals is to have something blooming every day of the year. Already I have seen insects out and about, and since they have few wild food options, I try to provide an oasis for pollinators.

This flower is the winner of the iris races this year. It sent up shoots in mid-January, and the buds first showed color toward the end of the month, but it didn’t finally fully open until earlier this week. Because of repeated very cold nights, mixed with sleet and snow, it has taken its time. This eager bloom is the only one open now, the rest are still just shoots. There will be a nice succession of flowers through the month, soon to be joined by a crescendo of colors peaking as trees cover the earth with shadows.

The appropriately named Iris ‘Eye Catcher’ has a lot to offer. In addition to their early blooms, they are fragrant, and with colorful markings. It was developed as part of a hybridization program by Alan McMurtrie, based in Toronto. He has spent over 30 years developing an amazing color palette of Iris reticulata.

This pair of photos shows how the flower in bud looks mainly lemony but opens to reveal a complex pattern of white flowers marked with dark blue and bright yellow. As the flower ages, at least in my garden the yellow seems to be a bit more subdued, and white fills in at the edges. Just like people, flowers transform over time, each phase of life bringing its own unique colorful beauty.