Winter Iris

Photo : Gill Henwood

My friend Gill has shared with me photos of the Winter Iris, Iris Unguicularis, growing in her Cumbrian garden at this time of year. This clump forming iris has tiny rhizomes and long, narrow, sword shaped evergreen leaves. It grows wild throughout the Mediterranean area where it is naturally winter flowering. It is extremely variable both in flower colour and size. It is native to dry, sunny soils and flowers best against a sunny wall where it can be left to form large clumps. Ideal then for the Lake District at this time of year! The Iris in Gill’s garden is, however, unaware of the restrictions on its growth and just gets on with it anyway! Which brings joy to us.

Winter Iris

Nature never sleeps.
It just rests awhile drawing breath.
Look around you,
see the green shoots pushing at the hardened ground.

Ah, we might sigh,  beauty is a pinprick of light in the cold earth.
Our ancient ones saw this time as hovering
between darkness and light.
Earth is poised between Winter and the journey towards Spring.
The sky begins to lighten.
Soil gives birth to snowdrop,
aconite, hellebore; crocus; daffodil,
all puncture the seemingly sleeping ground.
Early budding of trees as
nature yawns, stretching its arms,
drawing us into the embrace of renewing life.

There among the signs is Iris unguicularis,
Winter Iris.
She brings to our attention her warm history,
Infancy spent in North Africa, Syria, Mediterranean climes
Holy Land perhaps.

We sense the warmth of her hope that
nature will dust away all dregs of human darkness,
pointing us to the light and the beauty
the wisdom, passion and purity of faith,
which transforms.

[Mr G]

Photo: Gill Henwood

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