My Florentine Iris has come out. I bought it last year from an iris specialist –– I love iris, and have dozens of the things, reticulata for Spring, black, blue, bronze and white bearded iris germanica, half a dozen different sibiricas, English iris, common yellow flag, iris ensata, variegated iris pallida, and goodness knows all what. Plus this pampered pet, which has been put in a pot (an elegant black Chinese one), because the resemblances between Aberdeenshire and Tuscany do not leap to the discerning eye (at least, not usually, having just returned from North Norway, Aberdeenshire feels practically Mediterranean ––lush grass, flowering trees, tulips, even the first rose. However, from the iris’s point of view, there is a bit more winter than it was designed to cope with, hence the pot, which means that it can hibernate in the greenhouse. I have been looking forward to the flower ever since it put up a spike with buds on, about a month ago. Florentine iris is the wild, white one which grows all over Florence and its environs, common and unregarded, the rhizomes are the favourite food (someone in San Giovanni d’Asso once told me) of porcupines: when not eaten by porcupines, they are used to make perfume –– orris root. Planted alone in a pot, its extraordinary elegance can be appreciated. The flower is egg-shaped, a pure, slightly bluish white; calling to mind early Italian annunciation scenes, in which there is frequently a pot of iris somewhere. It is the original fleur-de-lys (a shape which if you think about it, bears not the slightest resemblance to a lily as such), superseded, in a sense, by the flashier and more splendid results of five hundred years of plantsmens’ efforts. But there is no modern iris which looks like the Italian Renaissance in a pot.