In My Garden
Our climate suits them very well and in the garden they are very easily grown if their few wants are satisfied. I prepare the soil well, mixing in a fair amount of compost and adding a fair amount of lime. Our soil is very acid and Iris reticulata is much happier in near neutral soils. The bulbs are planted five or six centimetres below soil level and a three centimetre layer of composted pine bark is laid on top.
I don’t like bare garden beds during summer and as the Iris is completely dormant by Christmas I’ve planted the evergreen Thymus longicaulis which makes a low carpet. This thyme needs very little supplementary watering in fact I watered it just once last summer. The Iris needs a long dry period during summer to set flowers for the following winter and if it is kept too wet during the warmer months the bulbs can or rather will rot. More traditional carpeting thymes burn off in the centre during our hot summers and also need too much extra irrigation.
Crocus etruscus grows in deciduous woodland in Tuscany. I grow a commercial Dutch clone called ‘Zwanenburg’ which is an excellent doer with soft lilac-mauve flowers. It flowers at the same time as Iris ‘Harmony’ and they are beautiful together. Crocus etruscus can cope with a fair bit of summer irrigation but is happy without any too.
The incredibly beautiful Crocus sieberi var tricolor is flowering now in the same area in the garden. It’s found wild high up in the mountains of the Northern Peloponnese, particularly on Mt Chelmos and Mt Ziria, but grows happily here. It will take more summer watering than the Iris but is content enough without. It is one of the most striking of all the winter flowering crocus with a definite white band separating the rich purple flower from the deep yellow throat. Astonishing.
Marcus Ryan awarded a Churchill Fellowship
The Churchill Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill by awarding overseas research Fellowships known as 'Churchill Fellowships'.
Since its inception The Churchill Trust has awarded Churchill Fellowships to over 3,400 Australians who, like Churchill, are innovative, filled with a spirit of determination and possess a strong desire to benefit their community.
All of us at Lambley are very proud of Marcus and know that Australian gardeners will benefit enormously from his explorations.