Blue Iris With A Fake Beard

Blue irises

A type of flower that may have beards, falls, flounces, horns, laminata, standards, signals and ruffles has to be accorded respect. Having said that, some of you might observe this ‘ordinary’ blue iris is lacking some of the twiddly bits its fancier bearded cousins can proudly display.

You might agree with me that the sunlight dancing on its upper petals and its clear, veined beelines left little to be desired: that the simple iris need not aspire to anything more. Continue reading

Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales

Bodnant House dwarfed by a large cedar tree

Only last week I was bemoaning the lack of a Tardis to transport me to a snow-covered Bodnant Garden, near Tal-y-Cafn, Conwy, Wales. The universe did not send me a Tardis, but it did the next best thing. A friend asked us to check out the place his family came from – Dolgellau – and Bodnant just happened to be on our way home.

While the snow in the garden had long gone, heavy white shawls on the Snowdonia mountain range opposite gave Bodnant a wintry feeling. The 130 acres of garden give plenty of scope for walking: you really need some form of season ticket* to make the most of it all.

Yellow witch hazel in a garden with tall grasses, dogwoods and heather

We headed for the winter garden, one of several favourite places at Bodnant, created by clearing azaleas from a neglected hillside rockery. The stems of rubus, cornus, Betula utlis and Prunus serrula provide architecture while witch hazel’s spidery yellow flowers hang eerily in the air. Tall grasses make the most of the light, with spreading plants such as heather, cyclamen, hellebores and irises scattered below.

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Macro Monday: Iris With Ferns

Purple striped iris with ferns in the background

These plant bedfellows seem to embody contrasts and echoes. Both are linear, with some symmetry, but neither are rigidly so. I get the feeling a mathematician might find reverie here. Curves, curls – wobbles, even – add complexity and soften any harshness. Someone or something has taken a chunk out of one iris petal, but the lines and colours are so hypnotic, we hardly notice it.  Continue reading