Iris unguicularis ‘Kilbroney Marble’

Iris unguicularis flowers intermittently from November to February and was first introduced into cultivation from Algeria by the British botanist, the Hon. William Herbert (1788 – 1847).

The true species of I. unguicularis has deep violet petals with white and deep yellow at the base of each fall. The petals of ‘Kilbroney Marble’ have the addition of marbling on each of the petals making them particularly interesting and attractive. It arose in a garden in Co Down and was originally propagated and distributed by the famous Slieve Donard Nursery.

Vita Sackville West wrote: “Kindliness, so far as the Algerian iris is concerned, consists in starving it. Rich cultivation makes it run to leaf rather than to flower.” E. A. Bowles commented that “…the older a clump grows, the better it flowers”

In the garden, the plant grows to 30cm high with narrow evergreen foliage, often tatty in appearance, and the flowers are best picked and enjoyed indoors away from the predations of slugs and snails. It is rarely available commercially but efforts are in hand to have some available at our plant sales in a year or so.

(As appeared in Newsletter 147, January 2020. Text and photos courtesy of Paddy Tobin).