Dublin may have been the first home outside its native habitat of South Africa for the Natal lily. Initially grown from seed, plants grew but did not flourish indoors. They were eventually moved outdoors and planted in the bed that runs in front of the Curvilinear Range at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Here they thrived and remained in situ for more than 100 years when they had to be removed to facilitate the building’s magnificent restoration. Once it was complete, they returned to their original outdoor site and currently form a substantial clump where the Central Pavilion meets the East Wing corridor.

It is a stately plant with large, robust leaves, their rolled bases forming a stout stem. From these, in late summer emerge stems to 1.5 metres tall with large, slightly nodding pink flowers. There are various forms in cultivation in shades of pink and also a pure white form. There are also forms with variegated foliage.

Not a plant for every garden, Crinum moorei, as it was named in 1874 after the Glasnevin Director, David Moore, is an investment in space. I have seen it growing in tight spaces and it may make a good candidate for a large pot but it is best when given ample room to produce multiple stems of late summer flowers.

(As appeared in Newsletter 150, September 2020. Text and photo courtesy of Brendan Sayers)