Plant Collector: Nerine filifolia

The daintiest of nerines - N. filifolia

The daintiest of nerines – N. filifolia

Nerines are a star of our autumn garden so the appearance of N.filifolia always arouses that slight sense of autumnal melancholy in me, coinciding as it does with the realisation that the days are getting shorter again. But the references tell me that in fact it is summer flowering and certainly it is always the first nerine to bloom here. It is also the daintiest member of that family that we have. It is tiny. While the stems can be about 25cm long, individual flowers are only a cm across at most with particularly frilly, waved petals in deep pink and nine flowers to each head.

The filifolia part of the name means fine foliage, grass-like in the vernacular. With us it is evergreen. In harder climates, it may lose its leaves. Like all nerines, it is a South African bulb, from the Eastern Cape area. It builds up easily and is not fussy in the garden, as long as it doesn’t get swamped by stronger growing plants.

Nobody could call it spectacular. It is just one of those little treasures that adds detail and seasonal interest to the garden. The problem will be sourcing bulbs. You will probably only find it from bulb specialists or other gardeners, though Trade Me is always worth watching for odd plants that are not widely available these days.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.