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Hesperantha coccinea

This week's seasonal task is potting on rooted Syringa vulgaris cuttings at Hipping Hall taken last autumn 2017. I took these cuttings from a rather sad looking lonesome lilac tree which borders a moss lawn project I have been working on since spring 2017.

There is still colour to catch the eye as winter approaches, and depending  when the first  hard frosts really strike, as to how long we can enjoy this late autumn colour. Hesperantha coccinea ( River lily) is a great example of late autumn colour in the garden. Hesperantha belongs to a genus of 79 species in the family Iridaceae native to South Africa.

For any winter protection of the rhizomes I have found that they survive very well in an open but sheltered site; that is their preference. Since gardening in the South Lakes for the last three years those observations have become more apparant in terms of hardiness, in relation to cold and wet conditions over winter. Personally I think they are as tough as old boots and I don't protect the rhizomes  with straw, fleece, or compost, I call this gardening against the grain. I wrote about this a number of years ago on the Parks & Gardens site for Horticulture Week.

I do like to garden against the grain at times, create a personal challenge! Opposite to what the books advise and give it a go!  Division of the rhizomes is recommended in spring  with about six leaf shoots attached prior to replanting in well prepared soil.

My technique is autumn division. With a trowel, or border spade if you are able to get enough purchase of soil around the rhizomes, still attached, the flowering process will not be affected the following year. I have achieved this dividing and transplanting peonies despite theories that this perennial does not transplant successfully.

I think it's really about kidding the plant it's not really being moved, when of course in fact it really is. This is due to the mass of soil still being attached to roots/rhizomes at the point of transplanting.

Hesperantha coccinea is still lighting up the borders of the terrace at the Ryebeck Hotel, Bowness on Windermere, catching the eye during  these late autumn crisp sunny days.

Kevin Line Posted by Kevin Line

Kevin works as a Freelance Horticultural Plant Consultant in the south Lake District.

He is a member of Butterfly Conservation and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the Hardy Plant Society, the Wildflower Society, and the Botanical Society Of Britain & Ireland. He also writes for the RHS Plant Review (formerly RHS Plantsman), he is currently researching historic plant propagation/ taxonomy for the Gardens Trust ( formerly Garden History Society ).

Kevin had previously worked for three and a half years developing the garden of an Arts & Crafts period Country House Hotel to National Gardens Scheme standard. (South Lakes)

He has also previously worked as Head Gardener in the Cotswolds for over 10 years, prior to that, BBC Gardeners World, and the National Trust.

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