Iris unguicularis, the Algerian Winter Iris, naturally ranges across north Africa and south-west Asia, but closer to home you can find it growing in the borders outside the Harris Manchester College chapel.
It is a member of the Iridaceae, a large family with many different varieties and a wide range of flowering periods. This variety flowers around Christmas, growing to around 30cm high with many strap-like dark green leaves.
The flowers are 5-8cm long and are very fragrant. Irises get their name from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of their wide variety of colours. The plant prefers full sun in a generally sheltered spot, and is ideal for some winter colour near to a doorway or path. It thrives in a well-drained soil with few nutrients, and should be cut back after flowering. Propagate by dividing in mid-summer to early autumn.