Gladiolus dalenii tends to grow in unexpected places in my garden. Like its hybrid cousins, it does not always fit comfortably into the garden scene –but I leave it be, thankful for its patronage. Above it looks rather good from outside the living-room window, backlit by the early morning sun. In this foreshortened shot it co-exists happily with a self-sown tree fern (Cyathea dregei), some indigenous but not wild Agapanthus, an exotic Gardenia (although we have equally lovely indigenous ones in South Africa, none of which I grow in my garden … yet) and the roses in Trudie’s Garden. Below it can be seen from closer by. Its flowers vary from a strong and dramatic lime green to quite bright yellow, streaked to a more or lesser extent in brown to red. Never dramatically bright, it is always striking, set off against a flower stalk showing various subtle shades of pale green and beautiful strap leaves.
But it is happiest, not as a gawky addition to the garden, but growing amongst long grasses in a meadow. I encourage it in the meadow at The House that Jack Built… and enjoy it these days in the gardens closer to the Big House. It is coming into its flowering season now, and will continue through January. Here it is in close-up growing in the veldt. It is worth going on your knees to explore the downturned face of each shy flower.
The other wild flower which I love to find over Christmas has in fact a much longer season. It is Zantedechia albomaculata, a pale yellow arum (or calla lily) with beautiful white-spotted leaves which give it its name. It too tends to grow in unexpected places in the garden – I often wonder if the seed was barrowed in with leafmould, spread opportunistically or whether the young plant might have been lovingly transplanted by old Phineas in the early days of the garden. In the photo below we are looking in the opposite direction from the very first photo, and see two arums flowering in Trudie’s Garden.
Like the gladiolus it is a large and graceful flower, perhaps easier to integrate into the garden, but at its loveliest when it glows in a shady spot amongst other wild things, often in damp ground. You step across towards it, admire its exquisitely turned spathe and graceful leaves, and look down into its wine-red heart…
This post, besides being my ‘Weekly Pic’ for this second last week of 2010, is also my contribution to Wildflower Wednesday initiated by Gail of ‘Clay and Limestone’ – what an excellent idea to celebrate those plants in our gardens native to our areas! And with this celebration of both the fauna and flora in Sequoia Gardens, I wish you all the very best for the Festive Season. May your garden be full of wonderful surprises.
PS: Listen to the Painted Reed Frog here!