The aristocrat and the pauper…

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.

Hedychium gardnerianum, Tostat, August 2015

Hedychium gardnerianum, Tostat, August 2015

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.

Eucomis atumnalis, Tostat, early July 2015

Eucomis atumnalis, Tostat, early July 2015

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.

Another pot, a bit later in July 2015

Another pot, a bit later in July 2015

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