I would not be a true South African gardener if I did not have this wonderful indigenous plant in my garden – Dietes grandiflora. I’ve briefly discussed Dietes before – it is a reliable plant in my garden and forms part of what I consider the  “background planting”. It forms a stunning backdrop to all my other foliage and flowering plants and is beautiful in its own right.

Also known as Wild Iris, this is a large wild iris grown throughout South Africa for obvious reasons. It’s evergreen, easy to grow and thrives in most conditions. For example, I have it growing in my sunniest beds with the roses where it gets about six to seven hours of full sun every day and I also have plenty of them growing in the back garden under the trees where they provide a wonderful contrast with their large strappy leaves which can grow to over a metre high.

Dietes grandiflora

Dietes grandiflora are both frost and drought hardy and will grow in either sun or shade. For best results and most flowers, plant Dietes grandiflora in full sun or light shade in well composted, well-drained soil and water well in summer. (Full plant profile at Plantzafrica.com).

Diana of Elephant’s Eye asks us to profile our twelve favourite plants. The ones we could not do without in our gardens. Dietes grandiflora is a stalwart in my garden – so this is one I won’t do without. They require so little attention and reward us handsomely season after season. This month Diana profiles her Pioneer plant – Spekboom.

Dietes grandiflora in the rose bedDietes grandiflora

Dietes grandiflora in bloomDietes grandiflora

Close up of the flowerClose up of the flower

The large strappy leavesThe large strappy leaves

I honestly pay these hardy perennials very little attention. They don’t demand any. I’ve hardly ever seen any insects on them (no tell-tale bite marks), they rarely require any sort of grooming and my rambunctious pets don’t even manage to damage the plants when they go bounding through the flower beds.

Dietes in combinationDietes grandiflora

The attractive seed headThe attractive seed head

The lovely Wild IrisThe lovely Wild Iris

Big upright strappy leavesBig upright strappy leaves

Dietes grandiflora and GauraDietes grandiflora and Gaura

White, purple and orangeWhite, purple and orange

I “cut my gardening teeth” on Dietes grandiflora. As a beginner, brown-thumbed  gardener these plants gave me a great boost initially by simply thriving and providing attractive foliage and the bonus of lovely flowers. It is for this reason that although I don’t talk about it often, it is on my list of plants I won’t garden without.

What are your favourite plants? The stalwarts that provide the backdrop to your garden?

Diana of Elephant’s Eye invites you to write a plant portrait each month. “I challenge you, in 2012, each month choose a plant. Archived pictures of flowers, berries, autumn leaves, wildlife endorsing your choice. Start fresh - what will be your signature plant?” Join Diana and friends on the 3rd Friday every month and showcase one of your favourite plants and see what others have chosen as theirs!

In January I profiled Carex evergold as my signature plant and in February I raved about the Pittosporum eugenioides ‘Variegata’. This month it’s Dietes grandiflora. Next month … perhaps a ground cover or a fabulous flowering plant. Come back and see!

That’s all folks!
xxx

Dietes grandiflora