Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Flowering Fringe-Lily

It can be a roller coaster ride of emotion when you care deeply about your area. Today we celebrate 8 flowers of Fringe-Lily (Thysanotus tuberosus), a perennial herb in the bushland above our drive while moods plummeted last Saturday as we oh-so-carefully poisoned leaves of Nectaroscordum, an onion relative far too vigorous and spreading – everywhere! – hoping we were not harming little skinks, birds and frogs, but catching the bulb before it reached the forest.
Our long wet spring has lengthened the flowering season of many a plant and may have delayed the onset of this Fringe-Lily, which I generally find starts to bloom just when I want to mow the grass below the house prior to the hot summer season, as bushfire fuel reduction. These flowering ones, however, are safe: there is no grass, just dirt and a few herbs where horses trampled more than 20 years ago before we arrived. Suddenly it’s a positive: we can leave the little lilies to seed.
Like their colour, which stands out, I’ll go imperial for a moment: they stand at one foot high (almost 30cm) and while the flowers last one day, they are replaced by another and another…
This delicious little lily seems to love this sunny spot. Fringe-Lily may not have the vanilla scent of its cousin Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium) but I think it prettier and, frankly, any plant that can flower into an Australian summer has earned my admiration. (I am in the foothills of the Dandening Ranges; it’s just as hot as Melbourne in summer.)
Fringe-Lily is available from Kuranga Native Nursery and would be nice in a Christmas stocking, so to speak. After all, the tuberous root is edible – although that would be a waste.

Jill Weatherhead is garden designer, horticulturist and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design www.jillweatherhead.com.au) working in Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges and Victoria.

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