It’s not often that we come across a Canadian story of a plant breeder rocking the world of ornamental horticulture which is why we are extra excited to offer you the exciting work of Toronto’s Alan McMurtrie.

 

For more than 30 years Alan has been breeding Iris reticulata or reticulate iris. These beautiful dwarf iris grow from bulbs and bloom in early spring. They produce small, delightful, fragrant flowers when few other plants have even thought to show themselves in the garden. You’ll find them overlapping in bloom period with snowdrops, early crocuses, and hellebores.

 

Iris reticulata 'Sea Breeze' is a striking, hardy dwarf cultivar with royal blue, white and yellow flowers.

Iris reticulata ‘Sea Breeze’ is a striking, hardy dwarf cultivar with royal blue, white and yellow flowers.

 

Numerous cute cultivars of Iris reticulata have long been available to gardeners in shades of white, yellow, purple and blue. But Alan is taking this species to the next level and beyond. He has been breeding for improved forms and performance, unusual colours, and bold colour combinations.

 

His ‘Sea Breeze’, ‘Eye Catcher’, and ‘Splish Splash’ offer amazing multi-coloured and detailed early spring confections.

 

Iris reticulata 'Eye Catcher' is a striking, hardy dwarf iris with white, cobalt blue, and yellow flowers.

Iris reticulata ‘Eye Catcher’ is a striking, hardy dwarf iris with white, cobalt blue, and yellow flowers.

 

Iris reticulata 'Splish Splash' is a dramatic cultivar with gorgeously etched spots and stripes of royal blue and yellow on a white background.

Iris reticulata ‘Splish Splash’ is a dramatic cultivar with gorgeously etched spots and stripes of royal blue and yellow on a white background.

 

His ‘Mars Landing’ offers a crazy burgundy brown colour and his ‘Orange Glow’ a shade of light orange contrasted with black. These particular colours have never been seen before in cultivation. His ‘Scent Sational’ focuses on beautiful fragrance. And his other cultivars, which might resemble older varieties, are always improvements in flower form, size, and vigour.

 

Iris reticulata 'Mars Landing' is an incredibly distinctive cultivar with rich burgundy-brown flowers with yellow central highlights.

Iris reticulata ‘Mars Landing’ is an incredibly distinctive cultivar with rich burgundy-brown flowers with yellow central highlights.

 

Iris reticulata 'Orange Glow' offers a stunning colour break with orange, yellow, and black flowers with striking detailing.

Iris reticulata ‘Orange Glow’ offers a stunning colour break with orange, yellow, and black flowers with striking detailing.

 

Iris reticulata 'Scent Sational' is noted for its royal purple flowers with dark blue, white, and yellow markings and its particularly beautiful fragrance.

Iris reticulata ‘Scent Sational’ is noted for its royal purple flowers with dark blue, white, and yellow markings and its particularly beautiful fragrance.

 

Alan’s decades of work have been paying off with attention from around the world including an article in the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious magazine, The Garden, and lots of international speaking engagements.

 

Iris reticulata love full to part sun in average, well-drained sites. As with many bulbs, they go dormant by summer when they appreciate a dry summer rest so areas that do not receive much summer irrigation are perfect for them. They can also be grown in pots if you don’t have the garden space for them or if you live in colder zones. Reticulated iris are hardy to at least zone 5 but some sources suggest possible hardiness to zone 4 or even 3. If you are experimenting with these bulbs in colder zones, make sure you have excellent drainage, a big pile of leaves to put on top of your collection, and good snow cover.

 

Iris reticulata 'North Star' is a beautiful cultivar with butter yellow and creamy white flowers speckled with teal dots.

Iris reticulata ‘North Star’ is a beautiful cultivar with butter yellow and creamy white flowers speckled with teal dots.

Iris reticulata 'On Cloud Nine' is a gorgeous cultivar with white flowers speckled in sky blue with a bold yellow central stripe.

Iris reticulata ‘On Cloud Nine’ is a gorgeous cultivar with white flowers speckled in sky blue with a bold yellow central stripe.

 

Iris reticulata 'Happiness' has bright yellow flowers with green highlights and spotting.

Iris reticulata ‘Happiness’ has bright yellow flowers with green highlights and spotting.

 

We are very pleased to offer a full range of Alan’s cultivars including his newest introductions. They are available for pre-ordering through the summer and fall for pick-up or shipping in late September and early October. From July to October you can order at https://mailorder.phoenixperennials.com. Should supplies last, we may also have them available potted up in early spring.

 

Alan has all kinds of other amazing breeding work up his sleeve for future introductions. You can check out his website at www.reticulatas.com. Beware! You might become so enamoured that you’ll have to start your own collection of these little treasures!

 

Iris reticulata 'Spot On' has dramatic royal purple flowers with white highlighted falls dipped in purple-black.

Iris reticulata ‘Spot On’ has dramatic royal purple flowers with white highlighted falls dipped in purple-black.

Iris reticulata 'White Caucasus' is the best white cultivar available with pure white flowers with yellow stripes.

Iris reticulata ‘White Caucasus’ is the best white cultivar available with pure white flowers with yellow stripes.