As summer comes to an end, the flowering annuals and perennials give us a signal that it is time for them to retire for the season. They do, however, leave a legacy behind: The seeds. True, excessive numbers left in the ground can sometimes create a problem because of the abundance of volunteer plants the following year. However, when enclosed in interesting “containers,” the seedpods become an asset – whether for fall or winter interest, to use indoors in arrangements, or simply as a place for birds to perch.
In our own garden, the plant that has stood out among other annuals and perennials at the fruiting stage is the Blackberry lily, Belamcanda chinensis. Called a lily but actually a member of the iris family, Blackberry lily is one of the most carefree perennials I have grown; aside from the fact that it was given to me by a dear friend, and therefore has a special meaning, plants bloom profusely all summer long. But, it is not really the flowers that drew my attention to Blackberry lily in the first place, but the seedpods which I happened to notice upon one of my visits. And, lo and behold, just a casual mention of wanting to own this lily resulted in my friend promptly bringing me a whole clump and some seeds too. Needless to say, the plants have been thriving in our garden ever since.
Blackberry lily likes to be grown in well-drained soil in sun to partial shade. The fan-shaped leaves can become several feet tall, and in summer the plants bear rather small but lovely bright orange-yellow flowers dotted with dark spots. The show, however, doesn’t stop once flowering is over, for the seed capsules which follow are equally delightful. Furthermore, upon maturity, the capsules split open to expose clusters of shiny black seeds that look like blackberries, hence the name Blackberry lily.
Each flower though lasts only a day, but with so many unopened buds around, there is no dearth of open flowers at one time. And, stems with seed capsules look fascinating not only in the garden but indoors in floral arrangements as well. Propagation can be done easily through division or the seeds; since at this time there is an ample supply of seeds on the plants, I will be happy to pass along the gift of friendship I have received.
Gita’s Tip of the Month
Soon spring-flowering bulbs can be planted in the ground. To get a good selection, buy early and store in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.