This is a copy of the Autumn/Winter Update 2023. If you would like to receive this please subscribe.
This is our short Autumn/Winter 2023 Update sending you Very Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
2023 has been a challenging growing year. After an unseasonably cold Spring and a prolonged drought through May/ July, this was followed by a very wet warm period during August through to the end of October. I have been moving irises continuously for the last two months.
We stopped sending out irises at the end of October 2023 and plan to resume deliveries in August 2024 (see later comments re Moving Collection).
Orders have held up well this year on the back of increased publicity about irises from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, coupled with a successful digital marketing campaign. We offer a distinctive high quality product, with a range that is not available elsewhere in the market place.
Thank you so much to those who have written business reviews. This is really important and helps our search ranking.
The Autumn/Winter 2023 Update is an important way to keep in touch with customers, past and present, and iris lovers generally. Our support base continues to grow steadily each month, so please mention us to your gardening friends and encourage them to join. Word of mouth referrals continue to be the most valuable source of publicity, and if you like the Update, please encourage them to our website and/or subscribe to the Newsletter and simply send them this link.
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CHRISTMAS 2023/ IRISES AS PRESENTS
Gift Vouchers – Have you thought of sending one of our Iris Gift Vouchers? They make great Christmas presents and are very popular with our customers, and of course they work well at other time of the year too. Cards are sent out quickly to meet special dates/anniversaries etc; and special messages can be added. For further information https://www.englishiriscompany.com/shop/bearded-iris-gift-vouchers/
Sending irises as presents is something we are always happy to do. They work well at Christmas and at other times of the year. This is popular with customers and the feedback we receive both from both donor and recipient is always positive. Please remember this when you are struggling to find the right gift for a gardening relative or friend this Christmas. Simply order your irises now and we will send them out next year.
Again, we can add a personal message, and provide a card.
1. 2024 INTRODUCTIONS
We plan to introduce two new irises and reintroduce a third:
(i) Century Pink – This is a welcome addition to our outstanding collection of ‘Pink’ irises. It was also the British Iris Centenary Iris chosen by the British Iris Society that featured prominently in their Chelsea 2022 Gold Medal Winning Display.
(ii) Dotterel – Named after the Wading Bird that nests high on the Cairngorm Uplands, this is a great new ‘amoena‘ with white standards and peachy buff falls. It is the first iris to flower in my garden by over a week and helps extend the iris bloom period. This makes it a really important iris to have in your iris collection.
(iii) Philippa Hobart – This iris failed to micro-propagate properly and the colours were not to true to form, so we had to withdraw it. It is now being re-introduced after taking cuttings/offsets for the last three years. This exciting mulberry-coloured iris is a great addition to our ‘Hots’ collection and goes really well planted with other hot colours, but is particularly good with ‘Pinks’. It grows well too.
2. MOVING THE IRIS COLLECTION
This has been in the planning for the last eighteen months. The process is complicated and involves two stages. The first phase of moving all the established plants to a new site in Lincolnshire is now complete. The second entails moving the production side of the business to a new site with Polytunnels in the North of England. Our search for a new site continues and we hope to have completed the move by June 2024.
Inevitably, the move will cause some disruption and to mitigate the worst effects, we have decided to delay all iris deliveries until August 2024. This will help us to buy time. The relocation of the business is affecting the availability of plants and there will be some restriction in supply in 2024/2025 , so my advice to Subscribers is to order early in the year.
Annabel Jane – If you have one iris in your garden, I would never be without it
3. INTRODUCING THE ‘SPECIAL RESERVE’ COLLECTION
Moving the iris collection made me realise that it provided an opportunity to expand the range of irises we offer. Currently we sell approx twenty five different irises, but have at least another twenty named varieties, but in smaller quantities.
These are all top notch Award Winning Irises hybridised to the same excavating standards that are the hallmark of the ‘Dodsworth’ Collection. They are rare, exclusive and will be released in small batches (sometimes less than twenty plants). They will be sold initially at a premium price of £25.
This is a trial process that offers the opportunity to expand the range of irises offered, but also importantly to increase the numbers of these irises in circulation. This is vital to ensure that these plants survive in future.
We recognise that the demand will be limited, but believe that some customers may be interested in extending their iris collections to include new quality irises that are both rare and unusual. Examples of some of the irises we plan to introduce are shown below:
Tynedale – Registered in 2023
(iv) Hen Harrier
Dykes Medal 1980
Subscriber Offer – As before, we are keen to offer Subscribers the first chance to purchase these plants and they will be offered for limited period before they go on the market. We will email you with details of the Special Reserve Releases as they become available and given the limited quantities, you will need to be quick to respond as plants will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. This, I hope, shows Subscribers the value of our Autumn/Winter 2023 Update.
We are keen to gauge feedback, and comments from Subscribers would be very welcome. Please email me: email@example.com
Dotterel Group 2023
Doddington – Claire and James Birch, the owners of Doddington have embarked on an ambitious programme to redevelop the Walled Garden at Doddington Hall . Their vision is to create one of the finest traditional Walled Gardens in the country, and I believe they are well on their way to achieving this. Much of there produce from the Kitchen garden is used in the restaurant and any surplus is sold to the Public.
One of the final stages of the project entailed moving the irises and creating a new iris border. I have been working closely with the gardens team at Doddington over the Summer and a new Iris Border of the ‘Dodsworth’ irises has been planted. This involves creating six new beds , with eight varieties in two rows of three irises. We have used block planting and matched the irises by colour to achieve maximum impact. It was finished in October 2023 and will be spectacular in a couple of years time. I can’t wait?
Doddington new Iris Border 2023 – Early days
I spent a delightful afternoon at Abercamlais in June 2023 and met the new owners, Andrea and Anthony Ballance. They are embarking on a programme to restore their Walled Garden which is a major undertaking. The iris borders are part of the first phase to create interest and focus to attract visitors to the Estate.
Two beds were planted three years ago, and a further two added last year. The borders have stablished well and will only get better and better inn the years to come.
Abercamlais 2023 – Ice Pinnacle and Darley Dale
Ice Pinnacle has been sensational this year
IRISES AS CUT FLOWERS
The Cut Flower Project aims to promote the versatility of our Tall Bearded Irises as Cut Flowers. Currently we have two Growers who are keen to grow irises, and both have established good collections. We expect more Growers to come on board in 2024.
This is still early days of the project, and we expect more feedback in 2024. We will share this with Subscribers.
I have added a few pointers to help you this Autumn/Winter
General Plant Health
We had great iris flowering this year, and many positive reports from customers from around the country. The extended drought through April/June allowed irises to flourish and should ensure good flowering next year. The warm wet conditions form August/end October allowed the plants to bulk up well.
Cutting Back – If you have not done so already, now is the time to cut back you irises into a fan shape (5″/13cm high). Remember too that the recent wet conditions mean that many leaves are saturated, particularly the outside leaves at the sides of each plant. These get soggy and leave as sodden mass at the base of each plant. It is vital that you remove all brown leaves from the base and the sides of the plant and cut back to green material. I have noted this to be particular problem with some of the irises I have moved recently. If you fail to act, the rhizomes will get waterlogged, and rot will soon follow.
If you have not cut back your rises yet, do this quickly and choose a good dry sunny winter’s day.
Slugs – I make no apology for repeating my warning form last year verbatim. These soggy warm conditions are ideal for slugs. You need to be vigilant, and remember it is the small black slug that does most damage.
If slugs are evident (and remember you may not be aware that they are), use an organic product ‘Ferrimax’ approved by RHS or ‘Sluxx’, the product we use. Check websites for availability.
Tidying Up – It is never too late to tidy up irises by removing the old surplus rhizomes. You can do this productively over the winter on a dry day, but do not attempt to dig up irises at this time of the year and replant them. This can be done in the Spring, but remember that using the Doddington Method much improves the chances of their flowering.
It is important to remove perennial weeds whenever you can. Growth has been spectacular this Autumn in ideal growing conditions.
For further information about planting and caring for your irises, use the link below. https://www.englishiriscompany.com/how-to-plant-and-care-for-bearded-irises/
Givendale – Subtle and Distinctive
Thank you for your support and for reading our Autumn/Winter 2023 Update. If you like it, and think others would be interested, please forward them the link and encourage them to Subscribe. I hope you have a very Happy Christmas, and do please remember the Gift Vouchers if you are still on the hunt for that elusive Christmas present. Enjoy your gardening and please tell your gardening friends about us. I will be in contact again in the Spring.
Phone: +44(0)7789 670 299