Monday, April 19, 2010

Angels' fishing rod

I'm not one to fish for compliments, but I'd love to hear what you think of a garden perennial that's blooming in my garden right now.

This is Dierama pulcherrimum, a South African native member of the iris family, similar to crocosmia. Its 3' - 4' long flower stems arch out gracefully from grass-like foliage, bearing bell-shaped flowers along wand-like stems that bend and nod in the breeze. They are commonly called Angel's Fishing Rod, or Fairy Wand.

The flowers range in color from white to pink to dark cerise, blooming from papery bracts suspended from the main wand by stems as fine as silver wire.

The name "dierama" comes from the Greek word for "funnel." The plant in my garden has blooms that are a pink so pale as to be almost white, with delicate darker shadings in the funnel's throat.

It's somewhat tender, but should do fine in Zone 7 or higher. Although it needs regular watering through its growing season, it's somewhat drought tolerant once established, and after blooming its grass-like foliage remains evergreen in the garden most of the year.

I planted mine about five years ago, and this year it's in fine form. There are at least a dozen stems arching out gracefully, festooned with flowers. When the slightest breeze blows they dance and toss.

My dierama is planted at the top of a sloping garden, near the stairs, so that as you walk beneath it, you can look up into the dancing bells. It grows beside a clump of a delicately feathery ornamental grass.

There are several species of dierama, but pulcherrimum is the largest and most commonly grown in gardens. Many cultivated named varieties may be hybrids with other species. They are easily grown from seed - the nodding flowers rippen into round seed capsules that you can allow to remain bobbing enticingly on the stems into autumn. Established clumps may be divided, but dieramas resent disturbing, and may sulk for a couple years before blooming again.

I got mine inexpensively, from a mail-order house. Although I adore it, I often wish it were more intensely colored, like some other named varieties selected by nurseries. There is a selection I'm dying to try, called "Blackbird" that is stunning for its dark magenta flowers with deep purple buds.

Seeds and plants can be easily found by mail-order. Thompson & Morgan is a good source of seed, and Digging Dog Nursery in California sells plants. Or, if you want me to send you seeds of mine when it ripens, just email me.

You can read more about dierama at this link to an article in Flower & Garden magazine.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Those are very nice!

Do you have bees that visit them?

Anonymous said...

I think they are beautiful - but I agree with you a darker colour would be even more attractive.

Anonymous said...

If I had those bending over the creek bank, I would indeed have to call them Angels' fishing rod -- the darker the better (although then we might wonder what the angels are fishinf for).

cactus petunia said...

I love those!
The flowers would make beautiful fairy dresses.

discount coupons said...

Your blackbird looks stunning.