The bold spikes of the red hot poker are putting on a good display on the Systematic Beds.
This familiar garden favourite is a reliable species for providing autumn flower. In its native homeland of Lesotho, South Africa, it thrives in marshes and wet gullies of mountain grasslands. In cultivation it is quite content growing in drier conditions, as with us. Kniphofia caulescens is an evergreen perennial bearing stout stems and broad, keeled, glaucous foliage. In late summer to mid autumn it produces erect inflorescences, each comprising many hundreds of individual tuberous flowers. These start off a coral-red in colour and fade to a soft yellow, with the lower flowers fading first to produce a bicolour flower spike, which gives rise to the common name red hot poker. In its homeland the Basuto people believed that this species wards off lightning strikes, and so planted them in close proximity to their huts.