Dwarf Iris Hardy Little Spring Flowers

Purple Dwarf iris hardy Spring flowers

Springtime in this neck of the woods can often feel like a clash of the Titans. With March and April typically being some of the snowiest months, winter is not ready to loosen its grip. WIth that, you never know what you might get weather wise one day to the next. Clear skies with 70° temps one day then 20° and snowing the next. The weather keeps you on your toes for sure!

It is with the unpredictability of the weather than can make the early rising flowers such as Dwarf Iris some of the boldest of the bold! I’ve referred to them before as Spring’s endurance athletes.

While they may be flowering unaffected by the elements, I’m bundled up with camera in hand to greet them. Like many early rising flowers, they are low-to-ground dwellers so it takes getting in the dirt to capture these moments. Armed with my thick garden pad, this has become my seasonal ritual and it brings me an incredible amount of joy!

Soldiers in Their Purple Uniforms…

Clusters of purple Dwarf Iris in early spring.
Clusters of purple Dwarf Iris in early spring.

With their purple and sometimes pale blue flowers, their markings of yellow and white make me think of soldier’s uniforms adorned with ornamental epaulets. Standing at all of 4 inches tall, they are small and mighty with their grandeur.

Braving the unpredictable spring elements, they are fearless when poking out of the snow. The contrast of deep purple flowers against white snow is striking to say the least. Was hoping to catch them in this state as I have years previously, but will have to settle for knowing this can happen.

However, my timing this year was such as to be able to capture clusters of them blooming adjacent to a spiky barrel cactus as in the photo below. Brave little soldiers indeed!

Purple Dwarf Iris by spiky barrel cactus
A cluster of deep purple Dwarf Iris flowers growing next to a spiky barrel cactus.
Solitary Dwarf Iris growing in rocky garden.
Dwarf Iris flying solo in the rocky garden.

With their grass-like leaves, you can see clusters of them scattered about the public Xeriscape gardens. They are rather unassuming until they give way to the intensely colored purple flowers that unfold.

But when you catch one flying solo and poking out through the rocky garden, it warrants your attention. I can’t help but want to stop and salute to it’s small but mighty stature.

With the 20° temps, I’m in coat, hat, scarf and gloves. However, these little fellas are unfazed by the elements!

Dwarf Iris or Pygmy Iris as they are also called are hardy, early-rising spring perennials worthy or a space in your garden. I only wish I had a garden to plant them in!!

Pygmy Iris growing through rocks in early spring.
Dwarf Iris growing up right through rocks.

Apparently they are drought tolerant once established. This makes sense as to why they do so well in the Xeriscape gardens. Given the rocky nature of where they generally pop up, it’s surprising they thrive the way they do.

Although, depending on the amount of moisture we get in the winter can – by my observations determine how well they will bloom in the spring.

We had a wetter winter this year so I was hoping for a “bumper-crop”. But I believe because there were many significant temperature swings with intermittent snow that may have thwarted some of the blooms.

No Kathryn Hodgkins So Far this Year

Pale blue Kathryn Hodgkins pygmy iris.
Pale blue Kathryn Hodgkins Pygmy Iris dotted with a spring morning frost.

There is one variety of Dwarf iris that I discovered a few season ago that is so beautiful. It’s called Kathryn Hodgkins. Unlike the deep violet purples of their brethren, these are a soft, pale blue color. These little beauties don’t show themselves very often. Or perhaps despite my best efforts, I’ve missed them this year? Lord knows I’ve been looking where I’ve seen them in the past.

They are like little works of art with their pale, sky blue color with splashes of yellow and white. The photo above was actually taken last season. You can see them still covered with the cold morning’s frost. I’m still holding out that I may encounter some of this variety this season 🙂

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