Hillside Iris Trial 2014


Now in their third year, the relative merits of the irises are showing themselves, leading to some clear favourites.

Top of the list are the Benton irises. These were bred by artist and plantsman, Cedric Morris at his home, Benton End, in Suffolk. He raised over 90 different bearded irises from seed between 1934 and 1960, selecting soft, bruised colours and elegant open flower forms which are supremely sophisticated. They are less showy than some of the varieties we are trialling and their muted tones work the best with the surrounding rural environment.

Benton Olive

Benton Daphne

Benton Susan

Benton Deirdre

In this painting of Morris' Iris Seedlings (1943) it is even possible to identify some of these varieties, many of which are being rescued from obscurity by Sarah Cook, former Head Gardener at Sissinghurst, who is collecting remnants of any of the Benton selections she finds.

Others irises that fit with the delicacy of the Bentons and may one day find a place at Hillside include;


Demi Deuil


Kent Pride



We also have a passion for the blackest iris we have come across, Anvil of Darkness, which will have to be used alone for full dramatic effect.

Those that have suggested themselves for future use in clients' gardens, but which are perhaps too glamourous or strong of colour for the rustic surroundings of Hillside are;



Indian Hills


Summer's Smile

Action Front

We will be digging up the strongest blues and purples and donating them to gardening friends, as they are the colours and forms we have liked the least here, as they draw too much attention to themselves.

Indigo Princess

Stellar Lights

Rosalie Figge

Midnight Caller