Posted on February 4th, 2014
The UK’s pre-eminent collection of Lachenalias (the ‘leopard lily’) will be displayed at Exbury Gardens in the New Forest between Sat 15 March and Sun 6 April 2014. The exhibition, hosted in the Gardens’ Five Arrows Gallery, will be staged for an extra week this year as interest in the South African bulb continues to rise.
Nicholas de Rothschild, President of the Gardens and overseer of Exbury’s Lachenalia Collection, explains the fascination of the Leopard Lily: ‘The Lachenalis represent one of the fastest-growing collector plants in the country. The Genus is full of interest, with 133 (and counting!) species offering a variety of colour during the dull winter months. Their size makes them the ideal plant for a kitchen pot, windowsill or conservatory, and they have an exceptionally long flowering season. Our first Lachenalias will traditionally flower in October, and the last as late as May.’
Grower Theo Herselmann is particularly excited about this years display as it offers him the opportunity to display some of the later flowering varieties not previously shown to the public: ‘Extending the season into April gives the exhibition an extra dimension. Visitors will be able to appreciate the colour and form of ‘l. rosea’ for example, which is amongst my favourite Lachenalias. After a dry summer 2013 and a late autumn, we have experienced a very wet and mild winter – indications are that flowering will be excellent.’
Theo has been kept busy re-naming the Exbury Lachenalia Collection following the publication of ‘The Genus Lachenalia’ Kew Publishing, 2012, by Graham Duncan. This was the first complete, illustrated monograph of this horticulturally important and botanically diverse species, and included reference to ten species and one subspecies that were new to science. ‘It’s not been easy keeping abreast of developments, not least because some of the advocated new names for plants have been challenged. This isn’t unusual though and shows the passion and interest that growers have in the Genus’ said Theo.
The Exbury Lachenalia Collection is ever-expanding, with visits to South Africa and collection of seed showing positive results some five years after planting. Donations from private enthusiasts are also a regular occurrence. All the Lachenalias displayed at the exhibition will be fully labelled, with visitors able to order bulbs they take a liking to. These are sent during the dormant summer months; July is generally recognised as the best month for planting. The Lachenalias will be displayed alongside other South African plants in a ‘Bushveld’ setting that Theo is creating. ‘We’re welcoming the South African Bulb Group and The Nerine and Amaryllid Society when we open on the 15th March, and I’m looking for the ‘Wow! Factor’ when they enter the Gallery. This will be a piece of South Africa on the south coast.’