Standing tall, fresh and defiant amid the season’s death and decay, they thumb their noses at autumn’s dullness – exotic punks who remind us it’s not all doom and gloom. Nerines are my new favourite plant.
They’re kind of thing you see in catalogues or online gardening sites but never buy – but what a mistake! I guess they don’t exactly get off to a good start when you see the bulbs in their packets… they’re weird-looking, like stretched daffodil bulbs with a skin condition.
So I ignored them, for many years. Until I saw an amazing display of them at this year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and wondered what on earth I’d been thinking, not planting any. They’d been forced to bloom in summer, but I knew they were autumn flowering, so was unable to resist.
Diamond lily, one of the common names for Nerine bowdenii, comes from the fact that the petals have an incredible, natural sparkle to them. They’re some of the brightest plants you can grow, and they flower at the dullest, wettest time of year.
Along with their cousins the amarines (hybrids with amaryllis), diamond lilies are providing a very necessary bit of cheerfulness in the garden right now.
- Great for lazy gardeners, they thrive on neglect, and don’t need any feeding or watering when you plant them in the ground
- Nerine bowdenii is hardy but benefits from being grown at the base of a warm sunny wall
- Plant them pointy end up, only burying half of the bulb
- They’re great in pots too – and it’s fine to let them become crowded – they enjoy close company!
- Nerines and amarines both make super cut flowers
- Plant them either in early spring or in midsummer