Gardening Magazine

Gifts from Friends

By Gardenamateur

At long last, and I mean after waiting 18 months, a bulb given to Pam and me by our friends John and Liz has finally flowered. That's it pictured below. "What is it?" you ask. Its formal name is Veltheimia bracteata, but forest lily is its other, common name, and as it's another flowering bulb from Africa we have planted it in our little South African patch sheltered under the shade provided by our frangipani tree.
Gifts from friendsLike our Scadoxus bulbs and our yellow-flowered clivias, Veltheimias do best in a shady spot. Normally, they flower in late winter and early spring every year, but as we planted John and Liz's bulbs in autumn last year, they promptly went into a sulk and for a while I thought that they were gonners, as their leaves died down and disappeared. But no, during late summer they started to poke out their new set of deep green, wide leaves from the broad bulb, and hope was restored that we'd get a show this year. 
Gifts from friendsAs Veltheimias come in a few different colours, notably pinks, greens and yellows, we didn't know what to expect, but once this flower head was forming in July, we knew it'd be pink.
Gifts from friendsJohn and Liz gave us two bulbs (this was in an exchange suggested by John, who wanted some of my blue-flowered Louisiana iris in exchange for one of his white-flowered Louisiana iris. He tossed in the Veltheimias as a bonus.) And I think I got a wonderful deal, as his white iris is a stunner. I'll be doing a posting on it some time in October, when its show is on. Here's how the plants looked in July, with the stalks about 30cm then, but now they're closer to 60cm high.

Gifts from friendsAnd as it turns out, one plant is a bit healthier and happier than the other (this year at least) but both are basically looking pretty good. I haven't got a clue whether baby Veltheimias will ever appear (as they have done with the nearby orange-flowered Scadoxus) but judging from the slow progress with the Veltheimias over these first 18 months, I don't think there'll be many newbies to cope with.

Gifts from friends
And so here's the last addition to our garden, yet another plant that reminds us of good friends. We have so many plants here that have come from friends as gifts, and they really do help you to think of those people more often that you might normally would. 

So, if you're stuck for an idea for a gift to give a gardening friend, you can never go wrong with a plant, especially one that's a bit interesting and unusual, like this forest lily.

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