When Fashion and Nature Collide: Iris elegantissima and Geissorhiza radians

When Fashion and Nature Collide: March 2018

This is the first of my contributions to the special collaboration announced here on the 18th. These flowers and Roda’s critter photos have provided the inspiration for Dominique‘s styling and Lisa’s art this month. Please go and visit their own blogs and see their posts.

Iris elegantissima – photo by author

Iris elegantissima (more formally Iris iberica ssp elegantissima) is found wild in Turkey, Iran and Armenia. The classic area being in the foothills of Mount Ararat where it has been described as looking like a drift of discarded handkerchiefs where it flowers in the grass: You can see a good example at: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-bearded-iris-iris-elegantissima-iris-iberica-ssp-elegantissima-ararat-12820999.html

Iris elegantissima is one of the Oncocyclus Irises, a group within the same section as the classic bearded Iris of gardens. It has similarly large flowers but on stems often only a few inches high.

By Vahe Martirosyan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17632380

It has been in cultivation for many years but is a challenge. I struggle to get any consistent success with it but am rewarded by flowers some years. It demands a very dry but not too hot summer and is really an alpine plant which prefers a cold winter under snow then moisture from snowmelt for a few weeks in spring.

Geissorhiza radians

Geissorhiza radians is one of the ‘wine cup’ flowers from the Cape area of South Africa. I have written about this species before here when I included it in my art.

There are colour forms in which the blue is absent: see this picture from Wilferd Duckitt:

Geissorhiza radians

It is native to seasonally (winter) damp areas near the town of Darling where it grows with many other beautiful bulbs. Geissorhiza grow from pea-sized corms which must be totally dry in summer when they go dormant to escape the heat and drought in habitat. They start to grow again with the first rains and cooler nights of autumn and stay in growth throughout the winter before flowering in spring. They are not difficult in cultivation in a greenhouse if kept just about frost-free in winter and with adequate but careful watering and a dry summer. The corms are reputed not to be long lived so hand pollination and saving the seed is a good idea.

Geissorhiza radians in situ / South Africa – Darling Wildflower reserve by Andreas Fleischmann (Wikimedia)

It has been a pleasure to share these flowers with you as they are two of my favourites and therefore perfect for my first contribution to this project.


  1. Beautiful and amazing flowers, Darren! I can understand why Dominique felt so inspired to Crete beautiful outfits after them! Is it just me or does the Iris elegantissima seem to resemble just the tiniest bit a pansy? At least that´s what I was reminded of at first, sorry if it is totally inappropriate! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Sarah!

      I gave Dominique and the others access to my photo library and they have been browsing through them. I have been pleasantly surprised about the ones Dominique has chosen as they correspond closely with my own favourites.

      I totally see the pansy resemblance. I guess any of these flower patterns with a vertical plane of symmetry (e.g. orchids too) have a resemblance. What is not obvious from the pictures is the size of the Iris flower – around 12 cm across.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you, Darren. I suspected that the iris flower was much larger than a pansy but it´s nice to be sure. 😉 This really one amazing project you four are undergoing and you can be so proud of it! I can´t wait what you will come up with next month!! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 2 people

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