First iris bloom of the season: Crimson King. Not the best substance and form in the world but who cares? nothing can beat it for color and fragrance. Give CK a bit of afternoon shade and it holds up well. I first saw this iris in a big border outside an administrative building (an historic home off Franklin Street) at UNC-CH. In spite of the fact that the border was getting shade from a nearby oak, the iris were blooming like crazy. It was love at first sight. CK will always have a place in my garden.
Iris kochii is another very early bloomer. Here is it growing with Crimson King (four blooms of CK on top, two of I. kochii on the bottom). I. kochii lacks fragrance but has better form and and a more bluish color than CK. Both are traditional passalong plants in the south, although I got mine from iris nurseries that sell historic iris.