I love my flowering ginger, Hedychium gardnerianum. They had a rough start in life here. Bought as a few small tubers on ebay, I planted them in what I thought would be a warm and wet enough part of the garden, and for two or three years, they bravely grew leaves and did what they could. I then realised that they took so long to get over winter even in the place I had carefully chosen for them, that they were too exhausted to flower, or if they tried, autumn chills did for them. So, into a pot they went, even though I managed to leave a bit behind, which is now back in the square one position, and yes, I will remember to dig it up this autumn.
This variety of Hedychium is reputed to be the hardiest, and so isn’t perhaps as luscious in flowering as some, but I like the Golden Shred colouring, and especially the contrast with the darker orange at the base of each flowerette. But the truth is: each flowerspike, currently one on each plant, lasts only a couple of days and will be utterly blitzed by any heavy rain. So, in plant terms, cost per wear doesn’t look too good. But I will move it into a more semi-shaded position than now, and try again another year.
But, cost per wear is a given a real ROI when you look at Eucomis autumnalis. I absolutely adore this plant. It meets all the requirements of a late summer flowering plant, great, lush foliage, flowerspikes that last for weeks and look good before, during, and after flowering, and it is incredibly easy to grow. It is a South African native, grows from bulbs, and is cheap as chips really. The only thing you have to do, which I didn’t, is really read up on what it likes. I had it planted in dry, stony ground for several years, which is exactly what it likes in the winter and spring, with very free-draining soil. My mistake was in not reading about the rest of what it likes. To flower, it wants moisture and quite a bit of it, as well as richer conditions. I promised myself every year I saw the leaves forming that I would dig it up and pot it up and, yes, each year I forgot.
This year I remembered, and was astonished that 3 bulbs were now nine in number, and went into 2 pots not one. And it has rewarded me, hand over fist, with a lovely display of cool, white flowerheads, for the past month and isn’t finished yet. I am so pleased that I remembered.
I love the faux pineapple shape of the spike, and its cheeky little top, the bit that I thought would make a great earring in an earlier blog. You get to see the little pineapple shape emerging weeks earlier before it finally flowers, so it is a great reveal when it happens.