Every fall, I carefully dig down in the dirt to retrieve small bulbs, rub the soil from them, and place them in a netted bag. They spend the winter in a box in my cool basement until spring, when I get them out and put them back in the ground.
I do this with quite a few bulbs and corms, but few excite me more after planting than my beloved Coral Drops (Bessera elegans). They are late to the summer party, reaching bloom size here in zone 5 in August, after putting up slender grass-like foliage earlier in the season. While the foliage lays down, the flower stalks that come later are strong and hold the flowers aloft quite easily.
Coral Drops are beautiful at first glance, with their deep reddish-orange color and dainty bell-type flowers dangling a little more than a foot off the ground. They look as though they would tinkle in the slightest breeze.
But come closer and gently turn the one-inch flower upward and you will see the secret they hold that most will never notice.
The ivory and orange stripes will surprise you enough, but the pistil and anthers are purple! They aren't fragrant as far as I can tell, but the charming beauty of these little-known treasures of the garden make them one of my favorites.
They're hardy in zones 8-11 and can be grown indoors and out as a container plant. They're native to Texas and Mexico, so you know they like full sun. They seem to like it in my Ohio summer garden, too!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009