Sun 13 Sep 2009
As we go into the early part of September there are many signs that the hot summer days are coming to an end. One of them is the sudden arrival in the garden of the lovely large pink trumpets of the Amaryllis belladonna. This one species in this South African genus is not to be confused with the South American Hippeastrum – packaged and sold over the Christmas period wrongly labelled as ‘Amaryllis’. The flowers are borne on strong dark purple stems of 50 to 80cm.
If there are such things as ‘cottage garden’ plants in Portugal then this is definitely one of them. It is very common near the front doors of older houses and the many ruins which lie abandoned in the hills. When planted in masses the blooms are spectacular, yet each flower is a gem all on it’s own. Superbly adapted to summer drought and winter rainfall – we give it no irrigation. The strap-like bright green leaves appear shortly after the flowers have faded and last through to the following summer. Do not be tempted to disturb them during the dormant period as this is when the all important buds are formed. Propagation is recommended by lifting and dividing clumps in late summer. These bulbs are a classic for any Mediterranean home. Garden worthy ? you bet – I can’t get enough of them !