Next year is going to be Oncocyclus Iris year! By Ian Green

To me they are the most beautiful of flowers. Extraordinary large blooms of exquisite structure and pattern and colour, and in the wild they just take the breath away as the put on such a wonderful show often amid achingly beautiful montane steppes. They look pretty good too in Kurt’s greenhouses. Some of the attached pictures are blooming right now at Kurt’s, others were taken on trips to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Next year we are doing two tours for the Alpine Garden Society with these gorgeous plants as their central focus. The first is an early March visit to the hills of Galilee and the Negev desert where Oron will show you up to eight species of oncocyclus iris as well as many other fabulous bulbs. We’ll get Oron to send us some pictures from the last tour (which did see all eight species in flower) shortly so that you can see just what an impressive area for bulbs it is.

It has been a few years since we roamed the steppes and mountains of the heartland of the Oncocyclus. The largest number of species are found in Eastern Anatolian, the Kura watershed and in Iran. Up to fourteen species might be encountered on this tour ranging from the huge Iris gatesii to the exquisite Iris paradoxa atrata. There’s swathes of lovely Iris elegantissima amongst tulips and fritillarias with magnificent Ararat for a backdrop. We’ll see Furry-falled Iris paradoxa choschab, the amazingly narrow-tepaled Iris lineolata and in the fascinating little enclave of Nakhchivan magnificent stands of Iris lycotis.

Come and see Jim Archibald’s ‘silken sad uncertain queens’

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