Alright, alright, alright! So I’m getting a tad precious with my word selection.
Geophyte is not a word in common usage. And a close inspection of the Sensory Garden at Elizabeth Park, shows my tiny collection of Babiana have disappeared.
I planted the Babiana in the soil (most unofficially) in loving memory of a dear friend who passed away after a struggle with cancer.
Hilder was a courageous person with a Flemish background in Belgium.
As Flemish is a little-known language I take delight in throwing it at you.
Ah! Power to the minority groups, I say.
Hilder and her family also lived in the Congo, Africa; just to add a dash more colour.
However, it is South Africa, more particularly the Fynbos region from Saldanha Bay north of Cape Town along the Indian Ocean coastline to Port Elizabeth, which I’m highlighting.
Most appropriate, as Elizabeth Park is our local garden.
I must have failed to water and nourish our little Babianas.
They did come up with strongly veined, dark green hairy leaves, having a one-sided attachment to the stem.
If they had flowers we would see a range of blue, violet, crimson, pink, yellow or white.
It grows less than 30cm high and the corms were top-notch delicacies for African baboons, hence the Dutch-based word Babiana.
By the by, the Dutch and Flemish are very similar.
Another Geophyte I’d like to try is Cape Cowslip or Lachenalia.
I found the common name ‘Soldier Boy’ most catching as it adequately describes these 20cm high bunches of waxy tubular flowers as if on parade.
Here the colour range is yellow, orange, red, and green. Fluff up the soil with organic fibre and keep out of frost.
I missed the boat of course. I should have planted Babiana and Lachenalia in autumn for a spring show.
The ‘babs’ needed a repeat sow.
Never mind as we have Sparaxis holding their own, ready to flower in red, orange and crimson.
African of course.
With all these African plants about maybe we should be alert for lions and tigers.
I hear giraffes can leave a nasty imprint if they happen to stamp on your foot.
Anyway I haven’t told you what a Geophyte is, or have you guessed already?
Ah, ha, maybe just call them bulbs. That’s right. A dashing group for colour.
Then again, not one metre from where I planted the Babiana, is a glowing flowered Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia).
This is also a Geophyte, with rhizomatous rootstock. Bright enough to make us smile.
Christians believe we come back after the unfavourable times are over.
Maybe they are a type of Geophyte (plants which are perennate – survive through unfavourable times – by subterranean buds).
Hilda would like that: both the Kniphofia and the coming back. How about you?