Today’s post is in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat.”
I have been completely enthralled by the flowers of Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’, a real treat on a cool misty day. This is the plant’s third year of flowering and last year the paltry two flowers didn’t start to appear until Boxing Day. So I was completely stunned when something pale and paper like appeared towards the top of the steps at the weekend. On investigating I discovered not one but three flowers and when I cleared away some of the fallen leaves there are clear signs that there are many flowers to follow – how thrilling.
As for Walter Butt who the plant is named after, he was the former owner of E Bertram Anderson’s house in Porlock. Anderson (1885-1971), a distinguished plantsman, worked as a chemist and bacteriologist before retiring to Porlock in Somerset. He was a founder member of the RHS Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee which first met in 1936. Other members included E A Bowles and Walter Ingerswen both with huge reputations in the alpine and bulb worlds and reading the article about Anderson in the RHS ‘The Plantsman’ (Dec 2010) it is clear that Anderson was one of those plantsmen who seemed to have been part of a cycle of eminent horticulturists all sharing information and plants. Anderson is well known for his raising of the beautiful Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ (Katherine Hodgkin was the wife of his friend Elliot Hodgkin). He was also responsible for raising Galanthus ‘John Gray’ and Galanthus ‘Mighty Atom‘ as well as collaborating with Helen Ballard in the raising of new hellebores and numerous other plants.
Going back to my iris, Anderson considered it as ‘noteworthy because of its size, very pale lavender flowers, almost white in the sun, and its strong perfume’ a description I completely agree with – indeed it is a real treat.