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April 2, 2006

Snakes Head Iris



The Snakes Head Iris, or Widow's Iris (Hermodactylus tuberosus), is an easy, but less familiar bulb plant native to the former Yugoslavia and Greece. It's not rare at all, people just don't ever grow it. It is commonly found for sale in the autumn in garden centers and catalogs, but gardeners either tend to avoid the bulb for the Dutch classics ( tulip, Hyacunths, etc.) or it may just seem to be difficult to grow.

I can't really speak to its garden performance, since I grow these by bouncing them back and forth from the bulb bed, back to the greenhouse.I do question how showy it would be in the garden, since it's natural blooming time would be in late May outside, and it's green and brown flowers could easily be lost in the mess of the competition, but forced in the greenhouse, it is a pleasant show on a cold April evening.

As you can see from the photo, the blossom is unusually colored, and is difficult to describe. But the rich velvety chocolate falls complement the green shades in a very stylish way.

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