Syria comes to Wanstead

Screenshot 2017-02-13 16.48.11Marian Temple of the Wanstead Community Gardeners writes: 
“I say Syria, but really I’m talking about some horticultural delights originating from the rocky hillsides of Syria and Algeria.  Flowering profusely now at the United Reformed Church on Grosvenor Road.  Winter irises are exquisite, flowering amazingly from November through to March and nearly always at Christmas.
“I planted these with church member Don in April 2015. We dug up four clumps from my own garden (planted by my wonderful green fingered mum over 50 years ago)  and planted them at the base of the four stone buttresses at the front of the church. Don and I scraped away the shingle, slit the sheeting underneath, tucked in the iris rhizomes and wished them well.
“Winter irises are exquisite but picky. No chance of them flowering unless the conditions are exactly right. They like poor, stony soil, crashing sun in summer and full sun in winter.  Against a building is perfect for them as the walls act as a storage heater.  I always knew that the front of the UR Church would be the perfect place for them.
“When the church was renovated a few years ago, English Heritage was involved so the front and side garden when reinstated could only be planted with plants contemporary with the Victorian building. Winter Irises fit nicely into this time frame as they were introduced into this country by Victorian plant hunters.  “Don’t hold your breath”  I said when we planted the rhizomes.  “They don’t like being moved and will probably sulk for a bit.  Might take a couple of years before they flower”   Not so!  They were so happy with their new home that they put out flowers in their first year and this winter they are blooming fit to  bust. Must think they are in Syria. Thank goodness they’re not!
“Sadly, lovely Don, my planting partner in crime died last year.  I will always think of him when I see them.  That’s what plants do. They carry with them associations of people and places.  They are not just a collection of leaves and petals. I do hope people will enjoy these exquisite winter bloomers for decades to come.  It’s worth trundling round to the church to see them.
“PS  They are also flowering in the Corner House Garden in an unofficial little corner bed tucked in beside the porch where the Luncheon Club people trot in. Why is this little corner bed unofficial?  Well that’s another story.”

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