|Close Up of Dierama flowers|
|Backlit dieramas in my garden|
In my old garden I tried unsuccessfully a number of times to grow dieramas. I didn't succeed with them there until I created a bed by adding 10 yards of sandy loam to a sunny bed right outside the front door. This was a bed that didn't get any supplemental water in the summer, and the sandy loam was indeed very sandy. I planted a Dierama pulcherimum there which I had purchased at Dancing Oaks. This was in a 4 inch band pot, yet one year after planting it, it had bulked up in a gratifying manner and had even flowered. In the past when I had planted dieramas they had sulked until they finally died. So I can only conclude that they didn't much care for my compost rich, moist beds in the rest of my old garden.
I believe it was in the third year that I had this plant from Dancing Oaks that I dug it up and divided it into 5 or 6 sections to move to my new garden. Dieramas grow from what look like corms, and they are very easy to divide. In any event, the plants you see in the pictures above are those divisions. I planted them in a mass in my new garden, not out of any design principle, but merely to get them in the ground. It was my intention to spread them out more after I had finished preparing the garden soil in my new garden. As you can see, I have not gotten around to doing that, and I may never get around to it. These plants, which were small divisions when planted, have bulked up nicely. This is the third year they have been in this new garden.
A little googling will reveal that there are many different species of dieramas, as this article on the Pacific Bulb Society's website explains. Dierama pulcherimum is a southern African species, as are most of the dieramas. Although the one I have is pastel pink, there are darker pink, and, indeed, almost purple forms of this plant. I might, in the future, acquire a darker pink one, but I am not sure I like the darkest forms because they do not show up as well in the garden. Many people do covet those dark forms, however. I have noticed recently some very interesting dieramas at Far Reaches Farm, including a number in their display garden. I might just have to acquire some of those.
Dieramas are usually evergreen, with a grass like foliage base. In a harsh winter this foliage base may appear pretty beat up and brown, and it is perfectly ok to cut it back just like you would cut back a grass. This is best done in the spring, just as new growth is starting in. This past winter was so mild that the foliage looked good and I did not have to cut it back.
From a design perspective, dieramas should be placed where their dangling flowers can best be appreciated. That I why I thought it would be better to place them throughout the garden, so they would act as accent plants, and their form could be appreciated. However, I have now concluded that they do not look bad in a mass, even though I never would have thought so before. I have planted each one about a foot and a half to two feet from their neighbors. In between I have planted some Anchusa azurea. This is a plant which blooms before the dieramas, and which is cut back after bloom, so by the time the dieramas bloom, the anchusa is just a neat rosette at ground level.