A Brown Study – 3

Part 3 – Dutch Irises

Iris × hollandica, commonly known as the Dutch iris, is a hybrid iris developed from species native to Spain and North Africa.

Two varieties of Iris xiphium (var. praecox) from Spain and (var. lusitanica) from France, were crossed with Iris tingitana(from North Africa). This was carried out by a Dutch bulb firm ‘Van Tubergen’ (based in Haarlem) in the 19th century.

Because the bulb could be forced in a greenhouse to flower early, it was popular with florists. Since the 1900s it has been crossed with other species to create various cultivars. After the Second World War, stocks of bulbs were imported to America. They then increased the colour range mainly the yellows.

–“Iris x hollandica, Wikipedia.org


In the last two posts, I’ve focused on the brown Dutch irises, so unusual and beautiful, that bloomed in my garden this past Spring. Of course, these irises come in many other colours, generally more spring-like than the browns and bronzes. This year, blue, yellow and white irises were blooming. As the bulbs are indistinguishable, it would take quite a bit of effort to separate the colours. It’s just as well, as they are a cheerful sight all mixed up together.

Dutch irises [Click on any photo to enlarge]

Here in Victoria BC, the Dutch irises bloom in May. They are hardy and do not have to be lifted and stored before winter sets in. They bloom well even if they become crowded and they last for a long time in bouquets. The bulbs multiply quickly and I divide them and replant. They are appearing in more sections of the garden every year, and that’s a good thing!


Dutch Iris 'Eye of the Tiger'

Dutch Iris ‘Eye of the Tiger’, watercolour, 11″ x 13″