Knifophias - Red Hot Pokers

 I love these flowers!
Red Hot Pokers

Those quintessential country fence-line perennial clumpers, Knifophias (Red Hot Pokers), have long been on my garden's 'Perhaps Not' list. Too coarse, too rudely orange perhaps? Well, well - I've finally seen the light.

Back in the days when I read English garden books and took notice of them, I bought some cute little creamy lime-green Knifophia hybrids. They were tiny, and highly prized. I planted them on the border's edge in the sun, and waited a long time to be wowed by their delicate beauty. Hmm...

Miniature Knifophias may shine in the gloom of an English summer. Alas - in the glare of New Zealand's sunny brightness they just look silly and unsubstantial. Our sun is different - honestly! No smog, no haze...

Remembering how bright and sunny the species looked when planted en masse, I decided to go coarse and country. I bought a pot of Kniphofia which promised to be a proper 'Red Hot Poker'. No stylish subtlety, nothing miniature - this was the real blazing orange-red deal.

 Growing along the edge of the water race.
Summer Daisies and Red Hot Pokers

Misunderstanding its need for sun, I moved it twice. It still barely flowered - just one floppy flower head, which the lawnmower managed to catch. Hopeless.

 Not a miniature one.
Yellow Kniphofia

My Happiest Mistake...

Bargain bins at nursery sales can be tricky things, with large pots of no-name plants often on offer for a dollar or two. And I am, after all, the gardener who excitedly bought Red Currant bushes, thinking they were Philadelphus, and planted them in the shade of a shrubbery.

So it was easy for me to mistake a pot of Knifophias for daylilies. I planted them innocently in the full sun by the water race. Hee hee.

It was one of my happiest mistakes - the deep one-colour orange flowers appear in mid-summer, and they are absolutely gorgeous. And what's more - it's not hard to trim the old foliage in winter. What a stunning, rich colour!

Golden Hot Pokers

So now I've become a noisy fan of these reddest, hottest 'Pokers'. And I've branched out even more. Clumps of big, bright, golden Knifophias grow near my house along a country road-side ditch. A friend took a sneaky slice and gave me a piece. This summer it flowered for the first time. Please clump out for me - be as clumpy as you like. My Golden Hot Pokers are just as gorgeous as the Red ones.