Guess what's odd about Bulbine frutescens. It's got no bulb. Nor does it have a rhizome, corm or tuber. But aside from its ill-chosen name, there's plenty to like about this stellar South African native known to locals as snake flower, cat's tail, or burn jelly plant (yes, it has some medicinal value). Bulbine is actually a succulent, but I know few that flower as freely as this one. I grow bulbine in a pot, where its hummock of rather finely textured grassy foliage looks tidy and well mannered early on. Later in the season, narrow wands rise skyward to erupt with a clown hat of tightly nestled buds which, soon enough, yield delicate orange flowers. When a plant produces 10-15 or more spires at a time, the effect is glorious. There's one drawback: the whole thing is kind of dinky, with the wands reaching, on a good day, maybe 18-24 inches and each flower smaller than a thumbnail. But pretty! And so wonderfully complex. Carefee as any succulent, and easy to overwinter indoors in cool temps and bright light.
Blogging about gardens, travel, and the cosmos. Basically,I'm a home gardener who's gone round the bend. I became interested in plants more than 20 years ago, during extended travels in tropical South America and Southeast Asia. Some of the tropical plants seen during those journeys, along with hundreds of other plants from all parts of the world, now grow in my ever-expanding garden. I’m a former newspaper photographer, travel writer and was managing editor at Fine Gardening magazine. I now design, write about, and photograph gardens. I give lectures about them too.