Recent posts have been rather lengthy, so I am going to keep this one short and to the point. Given that we are located in Umbria, Italy, it is high time I featured some Italian irises. For the second in my series “A Dance to the Music of Time“, here are five very different modern irises from a leading Italian hybridiser, Augusto Bianco. Each of them more than earns its keep in the garden.
First, Death by Chocolate. This is a Standard Dwarf Bearded iris, so it is early flowering. The colour varies quite a bit depending on the weather and growing conditions, sometimes being dark chocolate overall, sometimes showing lighter chocolate standards over darker chocolate falls. However, the effect is always pleasing and a distinctly chocolatey scent adds to the pleasure. I’ve found it always attracts notice and comment.
Second, Aldo Ratti. There are lots of good blue irises but nonetheless this one stands out for its performance as a garden plant. Good strong stems, the flowers a very pretty sky blue with the standards shaded slightly darker than the falls, a lengthy period of bloom, very quick to increase and delicately scented.
Next, two options for a dark and sultry look. Strozzapreti: the name means “Strangle the Priest” and refers to a particularly hearty type of pasta which locals supposedly would offer their ever-hungry prelate when he came to visit and scrounge a dinner. Perhaps the deep red falls made Bianco think of an especially good ragu, I don’t know. At all events, the pink and red velvet colouring of this vigorous iris makes a good strong statement in the border and as it is somewhat shorter growing it is also well suited to more exposed positions. For an even darker and richer effect, try Terra del Fuoco, also pictured below, which is a truly volcanic blend of burnt orange and near black, like a cooling lava flow.
And finally, Treccia d’Oro. This is a very pretty ruffled cream, edged and veined with pale yellow and it is nicely perfumed. Where it really scores is in reliably reblooming in summer and managing to look fresh and pristine even in August heat. Strozzapreti is also said to rebloom, although to date mine has not done so.