Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gloriosa superba

Here's something new under the sun.  Well, not really, but definitely new for the Sprouts and Wildlings garden!  I planted this curiosity two autumns ago, but last summer it got only one bud that was quickly chewed by some kind of insect and so I didn't get to enjoy the bloom.  But my patience has been rewarded.  I'm excited by this bright, colorful, bizarre flower and its eccentric habits.  

Gloriosa superba "Rothschildiana" seems fantastic to me in every way.  These rippled red and yellow flared petals are outlandish.  It's a lily, but before now I have never seen a climbing lily (excluding in the book that tempted me to buy it, Garden Bulbs for the South by Scott Ogden).  Not only that, how it climbs seems singularly odd to me.  I know that some climbers climb by suckers or root hairs and others twist their stems around the supports.  I know that some climbers have tendrils and others just hang on by thorns (like roses).  Up to now, I thought that clematis was a little strange, the way its leaf petioles are used as tendrils.  Gloriosa lily is just a bit stranger, in my opinion.  The climbing tendrils are elongated leaf tips.  You can see it in the bottom of this photo, where the large light green lily leaf (typically shaped for a lily except for that crazy tip) has wrapped around the stem of the Abelia it's climbing through.
The Gloriosa lily may not be hardy in my garden, although it's in the warmest microclimate I have -- this past winter was probably not a real test.  I hope it lasts for years, but it may turn out to be a one-time pleasure.  Even if that's the case, I'm glad I gave it a try and got to learn about and enjoy this strange and wonderful beast in my own garden.
For other strange and wonderful beasts, check out Macro Monday on Lisa's Chaos.