‘Kirengeshoma’ — woodland gem in Rhododendron Dell

Kirengeshoma palmata. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Kirengeshoma palmata. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
One of the more graceful late season herbaceous perennials is Kirengeshoma palmata, which has been brightening up the woodland garden.

Coming from the woods and mountain lowlands of Korea, eastern China, and Japan, Kirengeshoma or yellow wax bells, is perfectly suited to woodland gardens, where it thrives in deep, moist, humus-rich soil in part shade

Kirengeshoma stems, leaves and flowers combine to convey a satisfying sense of contrast and balance. The stems, growing between 60cm-120cm, are thin, wiry and a reddish-purple.

Fanning out from the stems at almost right angles, the sharply lobed leaves form loose tiers of medium green. The stems extend above the leaves and narrow into flower stalks, which dangle a trio of flowers at various stages of development from closed bud to fully open.

Individually, the flowers are 3cm long, with five creamy-yellow petals, which overlap to form nodding bells each of which looks as if it has been given a slight twist. En masse they seem to hover above the main body of foliage and stand out against the dark stems and broad leaves.

In the Rhododendron Dell it grows alongside Hosta and Japanese maples in the shady area flanked by the wooden railing below the azalea garden.

They die back towards the end of autumn and in spring as they emerge, they can be divided or propagated from cuttings or by seed, although it can take up to 10 months for seed to germinate.

— Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Doug Thomson

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