Nerine bowdenii

The Nerines of which there are 18 species are a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. Interestingly, Nerines which are from South Africa are named after the water nymph Nerine yet they enjoy full sun or light shade in a well drained soil. A good number of years ago I saw N. bowdenii in the walled garden at Benmore where they appeared to be happy with a 100 inches a year of rain.

This species is the most common in gardens and is certainly considered to be the hardiest surviving down to -10 deg. Cent. The cultivar N. bowdenii ‘Mark Fenwick’ (Fenwicks Variety). is a vigorous form, which is probably what most people have. The flower heads are born on 18 inch long stems. The flowers themselves are a rich pink on the outside with a silver pale pink on the face. The stamens are long, protruding beyond the petals curving upwards revealing black anthers with silvery green pollen grains. The strap shaped mid green foliage is insignificant and dies back long before the flower stalks appear. Nerines come into flower end of September through October and into November and are unaccountably the finest of flowers at this time of year. They are numerous cultivars and hybrids of which N. ‘Stephanie’ is a strong growing cultivar with fine white flower heads with beige anthers on pinkish stalks on shorter stems than N bowdenii. Nerine bowdenii is widely available but cultivars are more difficult to find.

Planting of the bulbs, best done in the spring, should have the neck exposed above the surface unlike other bulbs that are usually planted beneath the surface. Propagation is by splitting up the bulbs but they are best left undisturbed unless the clump gets too big.

James McCombe