In early June I did a little blog entry called 'African babies', about this flower, the Natal paintbrush, or Scadoxus puniceus. Back then I just planted the bulbs, and today I am very thrilled to be able to report that they're almost in full flower, even though they are a bit behind schedule. But before I begin a little rundown on how my South African bulbs turned into yet another Aussie migrant success story, I should once again thank my friend and workmate Geoffrey for giving me the bulbs in the first place.
Here they are this morning, September 22. They were planted back on May 30, a little later than the ideal, says Geoffrey. His own scadoxus bulbs have already flowered a couple of weeks ago, for example, so I am a bit behind schedule just for this year. But as they say in the classics – better late than never.
After being planted on May 30, with their bulbs buried about two-thirds deep, they did nothing at all during June and July, and it was only by mid-August that there was some promising action, as pictured above on August 13.
As Geoffrey predicted, the two larger bulbs will flower this year, while the smaller one (on the right) needs another year before it will do so. This is the scene on September 4.
The baby scadoxus is perfectly healthy and in fact was the first of the three to show any signs of growth in early August, but it's just going to be a pleasantly leafy resident here in Amateur Land this summer, as it builds up in size in the kind of fairly well shaded and sheltered spot that scadoxus prefer.
Progress came quickly, and by September 16 the flower heads had started to open and the largest of the plants had reached about 18 inches high.
Peering inside the flower heads, you can see there's an enormous throng of buds waiting to burst free from their confines.
Here they are this morning, September 22, in bloom. The red petals at the outside of the flower should open out a bit further over the next few days, but this is close enough to 'full bloom' for me.
My favourite time of day to enjoy this fascinating bloom is late afternoon, when the low sun kisses the golden tips, setting them aglow, creating Mother Nature's own Olympic torch.
What a spectacular way for a flower to make its entrance in a garden! Geoffrey's kind gift is a welcome addition for sure, hopefully its memorable debut is the start to a long and glorious career here.