This is not to be confused with Iris unguicularis which I wrote about in this column in February 2017. Although closely related, their needs differ in many respects, and for that reason it is well worth giving today’s plant a plug!
Iris lazica is native to coastal areas of the Black Sea in Turkey and Georgia, and unlike the Algerian iris (which needs a hot, dry spot in poor soil), this one positively thrives in semi-shade, even full shade, and preferably a little damp. It also flowers later, in March, so if you grow both species, you will have a succession of lilac blue flowers at any time from November onwards. The leaves of I. lazica are similarly strappy but less untidy than its cousin’s, and the beautiful flowers seem to hunker down into the foliage, while still standing out.
If you are an impatient gardener, then this one is probably not for you. I planted ours several years ago at the base of an Elaeagnus umbellata, and it had a bit of a sulk for the first couple of seasons. Now however, it is a mature clump, a circle of some 60 cms across, and the display of flowers seems to get better with each year that passes.
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