Country and Gardens: Cuttings

AN EXHIBITION of paintings by Catherine Simpson-Bainbridge at the Royal Commonwealth Society continues until the end of the month. The artist's subject matter has been inspired by the four months she spent studying plants at the Las Cruces Research Station in Costa Rica. The exhibition is to raise funds for the work of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, which will receive 40 per cent of the proceeds. Free admission, by appointment only, at 18 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2 (0207 766 9200).

MEGAN INGHAM writes from Colwyn Bay about her iris, which have not been flowering well. She decided to lift and replant them. "In the process," she says, "I lifted many other perennials intermingled with the iris.

I have now sorted and cleaned the rhizomes and made a bed of iris only, planting more than 100 pieces. How long will it be before I can expect the iris to bloom? I had the impression that it was a good idea to underplant iris with perennials, but I'm now having second thoughts."

Like pears, iris are happiest in climates such as in the south of France, where the rhizomes can get a good baking in the summer and soil drainage is good.

That is why they do not generally do well in mixed plantings, where growth of other perennials flops over the iris rhizomes and prevents them getting the ripening they need.

Mrs Ingham was wise to get rid of the other plants round her iris. If they are in ground that they like (sunny and well drained) there is no reason why some of the replanted iris should not flower next season. They will appreciate an annual dressing of bonemeal, or blood and bone, given in late March or April.