Alpine Garden Society

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Iris kolpakowskiana

Iris kolkopowskiana A mouthful of a name for a small plant, reaching a maximum height of 12 cms. I first obtained one small bulb at a Leeds Conference at cheque book price!  Over the years appearing at March shows, the number of bulbs increased enough to give some away.

A member of the Reticulate group, it is unusual in having three or four narrow channelled leaves, with the usual net over the bulbs.  On a short stem the flower is pale lilac blue, with a very deep blue on the falls and a yellow central ridge.  In and out of cultivation since the late nineteenth century, it grows on very stony mountain sides at up to 3,000 metres in the Tien Shan Mountains of Central Russia.

Iris kolpakowskiana Late August to early September, plant the bulbs, after a dip in fungicide, in a layer of coarse gritty sand above a 5cm deep mix of 50/50 J.I.2 and granite chips.  Then top with large grit.  All wrong I am told, but it seems to work.  Over winter in a sunny position in the alpine house.  Start to water with a weak tomato feed in late January, round the pot edge.  Keep a watch for aphids.  My best pan reached its peak with the 70th  Anniversary Award in 1999, at the East Lancs Show.

Brian Russ