Crocosmia paniculata and pyracanthus

How time flies! It is a month since I set aside some of these images.

(Sorry. I am obsessed this afternoon with mortality and the passing of time. Really, Frances! To refer to Twiggy as “a long ago willowy British model.” I mean she hit the planet only… what? Over 45 years ago? OMG. I better fetch a whisky. And here I’m trying to avoid mentioning the first autumn leaves are here again. Darn! There I go do it! I’ll make it a stiff one… No wonder mid-March and the sudden arrival AGAIN of autumn leaves in the summer heat has hit me like a sledge-hammer. 45 years, you say? I didn’t even realise I was that old…)

Crocosmia paniculata

These are Crocosmia paniculata. I remember discovering unexpectedly a clump in full bloom in a pine plantation years ago (don’t think about it, Jack) and immediately making a note to bring them into the garden. It is so strange to find so bright a flower in heavy shade. And the leaves are so luminescently green. The first ones grow (and glow) above a fishbone pyracanthus in the Long Border. The second (I am slightly ashamed to admit) grow in a nondescript area which some might call a compost heap.

Crocosmia paniculata 2

They are such distinguished plants – graceful and beautifully coloured and detailed. And like most bright reds, they don’t photograph too well on a digital camera; remember how some blue flowers were always mauve on Kodachrome, before they took my kodachrome away… (Don’t go there, Jack!)

Eucomis comosa

This is Eucomis comosa. It is a particularly fine and robust example growing in an uncultivated area right in the middle of the garden (If you go to the aerial photos, in the elbow between the Beech Borders and Standen Walk. (Or the top right area between the red axis lines; this is where I want to move all my old-fashioned roses to – but I must mark this particular spot before I do any moving!) I was thrilled to see, when I went closer for the photo, that several of its off-spring were flowering around it.

Eucomis comosa 2

We have several different species of Eucomis growing wild, and in addition we’ve a few improved varieties from which I’ve propagated successfully. But today I’m only looking at recent photos – which reminds me; after today’s walk I realise there must be a follow-up post – to include the orange Crocosmia aurea as well as several other endemic plants in bloom.

Dissotis canescens

Dissotis canescens is also known as the Wild Tibouchina – those from sub-tropical areas will know these glorious flowering trees and shrubs. It is a perennial which grows in marshy areas (the background is the surface of my dam) and the combination of luminescent magenta flowers with rich brick-red calyxes is startlingly beautiful. It is past its prime here, but that is when I love it the most, when the brick-reds dominate.

Chloropytum krookianum

I was caught by surprise by two clumps of this growing in the Long Border. What was it? And when did I plant it?  I knew it was indigenous – somehow – but I am baffled by it history, other than a vague memory of the same thing happening last year. (What, Alzheimers already, you say?) Research seems to indicate that it is Chlorophytum krookianum, closely related to the well-known  hen-and-chickens. Known as ‘Reach for the Sky’, its delicate panicles stand over 2m tall. Luckily it doesn’t gallop like the much more diminutive hen-and-chickens, or it would be a real thug! I strongly suspect that these were moved into the Long Border by Phineas or Frans, who found a clump in the veld. I know I didn’t plant them…

Dierama hybrid 2

I think I’ve saved the best for last. I recently discovered in flower, quite out of season, one single plant in rows of Dierama seedlings in the nursery. Some years ago I planted seeds of white Dierama  or Angels Rods; some were from plants growing near mauve ones. These are the first ever flowers – and they are white with the subtlest tinges of mauve about them. I really look forward to next spring to see what they all look like!

Dierama hybrid


  1. Great show. The only one with which I am familiar is the crocosmia — at least the family. Now I’m wondering if the C. pottsii also blooms in shade. I’ve always planted crocosmia in sun, but have a great spot if they’ll give up blossoms in shade. I’ll look it up.

    • Jean, one of my books says of C. paniculata ‘in moist grassland’ and of C. pottsii ‘in stony grassland, streambanks, forest’ – that indicates to me that it would take more rather than less shade. C. aerea is described as ‘forest shade’, but with me chooses sunnier spots than paniculata. I’d say give it a try!

  2. Years, minutes, seconds, eons, they are all but dust in the wind, Jack! HA I forget that it is beginning to be fall there, a melancholy season to be sure. Thanks for the linkage, and hitting me over the head with it. I do appreciate it, really. But your flowers are simply stupendous, no reason to feel sad about the passage of time with things like those to cheer one up. That is the first white Dierama I have ever seen. We started some from seed a couple of years ago and are still waiting for anything that might turn into a flower stalk. We have one sad, if very long leaf though. Hope lives.

    • Hi Frances! Fall is actually my favourite season – as you will come to understand over the coming months! It is just so odd how a few leaves turn quickly now, especially as today was one of the hottest days this summer. Is it a reminder of mortality, or perhaps just a nose-thumbing to it?

    • So true! I could never garden on this scale if nature didn’t contribute substantially – not just with flowers, but all the grasses, ferns, mosses, funghi, perennials, shrubs and trees she so generously and effectively arranges!

  3. What beautiful flowers, Jack. You certainly live in the right part of the world to have amazing flowers to bring from the wild into the garden. (BTW, some of us are so old that we were already married long before Paul Simon lost his kodachrome — when he was still teamed up with Art Garfunkle!);-)

  4. That crocosmia is breathtaking. You crack me up with your kodachrome and reminiscences of Twiggy — ancient history, man. 🙂 Still, your garden looks pretty groovy; you can’t be too out of the loop yet!

    • Thanks Meredith! I rely (in an oh-so-subtle way, I hope) on the approval of Youth to check that I don’t become a fuddy-duddy! 😉

  5. One of life’s consolations, Jean: you’ll always find someone older/broker/fatter/more knocked about by fate than you are! 😉
    Yes, we do have wonderful plants and flowers – and I’m constantly discovering more as I explore the local mountains and places further afield!

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