peak beard


Tall bearded irises are currently having their moment.


The ginger tinged beards on this unnamed white iris with purple stitches edging the petals are clearly visible. Curiously these smell exactly of grape hubba bubba.


I’m quite fond of this baby blue one growing beside the salvia ‘black knight’.


But the irises I like best are bitones, where the colour of the velvety falls is a heavily saturated version of the bleached standard petals. The standards of this one – ‘dusky evening’ – have a smokey grey tinge to them like a stormy sky, while the falls are a regal dark navy edged with purple.


Out on the nature strip, snails have sadly had their way with these slightly toxic purple ones (a variety called ‘who’s your daddy’ – the name should have warned me they weren’t really my type), but they’re still kind of nice with their backdrop of lime green euphorbia.


I have these gorgeous crimson ones with dark orange beards – ‘wearing rubies’ – in a large pot down the side of the house where their rusty colour won’t clash with anything.


But if I had to pick a favourite from my garden it would probably be ‘bordello’ even though it’s impossible to photograph satisfactorily. The dark plummy colour always looks leaden unless they’re backlit. Happily the falls are the same shade of blackberry as the newly opened flowers on the neighbouring clematis ‘etoile violette’.