Hesperantha coccinea


Hesperantha coccinea is commonly known as the Crimson Flag Lily.

             Hesperantha coccinea Major

 Hesperantha coccinea MajorBefore I came to Marwood Hill Gardens, all I knew about this plant was that it had a very complex sounding name ‘Schizostylis’. No sooner had I committed this name to memory, it was changed again to an equally complex new name ‘Hesperantha’( much to my frustration).

I vividly remember seeing this flower when I started working at Marwood ( October 2019) because of its jewel like blooms which could be seen dotted across the garden. It is prominent in the walled terracing, along the edge of the herbaceous borders and planted along the steamside. It really is impressive.

Marwood has a number of different cultivars including Hesperantha ‘alba’ (white), Hesperantha coccinea ‘Sunrise’ (mid-pink), Hesperantha ‘Mrs Hegarty’ (pale-pink), and the later flowering Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ (dark-pink) and Hesperantha major ‘Coccinea’ (red). The red is a personal favourite of mine.

For much of the year Hesperantha is quite unassuming. It is part of the Iris family and has glaucous-green grass-like foliage reaching 60cm in height. It could easily be mistaken for any other species of Iris growing in the garden.  However it is simply biding its time, waiting for September when the other plants start to fade. Suddenly it strikes out, with slender spikes of silky, cup- shaped blooms.

Hesperantha is an ideal plant to keep the garden looking good until the first frosts of winter. Its late flowering nature is easily explained when you consider that it is native of South Africa. Spring in South Africa is a time when water is more plentiful and a good time for flowering. Autumn in the UK coincides with spring in the southern hemisphere. Put simply despite being thousands of miles away from its home Hesperantha continues to follow its natural flowering cycles.  


   Hesperantha coccinea Sunrise

Hesperantha coccinea Sunrise


In South Africa this plant can be found growing in mountainous areas, by the sides of streams and in moist, grassy areas, which explains its tough and resilient nature when grown in the UK. It prefers to be planted in a sunny spot but is not fussy about what soil it is planted into. It self seeds very readily and can be propagated by both seed and division after flowering.


It is also incredibly popular with our garden visitors and was one of the best sellers here in Autumn 2020. Why not visit our plants sales area and buy one yourself, they are also available via our online shop.

 Varieties avaialble via our online shop or at our Walled Garden Nursery

 Hesperantha coccinea 'Sunrise' | Marwood Hill Gardens

 Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ | Marwood Hill Gardens

 Hesperantha coccinea Major AGM | Marwood Hill Gardens







Astilbe chinensis 'Brokat'


One of the best and most striking Astilbe varieties is also one of the last to flower. This showstopper flowers late in the season, through August and into September. It produces masses of attractive ferny foliage, with architectural upright plumes of vibrant feathery flowers.


Astilbe chinensis Brokat in the garden ‘Brokat’ is a chinensis type astilbe. This means it is more drought tolerant than other species of Astilbes. It can be planted away from the stream edge and within herbaceous borders. it contrasts well with the fiery colours of late summer perennials, such as Kniphofia (red hot poker), Helenium and Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan) It is a medium to tall Astilbe at 60-90cm, it prefers full sun and is very vigorous so will quickly form a large clump.

It would be fair to say there aren’t any other flowers as excitingly purple in the garden at this time of year. This vibrance of this colour brings to mind images of Cadbury chocolate box. Astilbes are generally pest free, not fussy and very easy to propagate. Great news for any gardeners – especially at Marwood Hill Gardens where we hold the national collection. If you are lucky enough to have these, at intervals of three to four years simply lift these plant and divide. Autumn division is best. However, be prepared to sacrifice an old pruning saw as the job of division can become tricky. You need a strong arm as the roots can become quite woody with age. Divided plants can be either potted up or replanted back in the ground. You can use any potting compost but I can happily report that peat-free bark-based compost works very well. (as well as being good for the planet) Regular division encourages increased flowering.



Astilbe chinensis Brokat
Other astilbes to flower in late August include ‘Visions in Red’, ‘Salmonea’ (pink), ‘Walkerie’ (magenta), ‘Visions’, ‘Purple Glory’.

We sell Astilbe ‘Brokat’ in our plant centre and our online shop. it is very popular and every year it sells out quickly so catch this beauty for your garden while you can.












Marwood Heritage Collection

Marwood Hill Garden's newest National Collection.

This collection is the result of 70 years of plant cultivation resulting in the wonderful and diverse collection we see today in the gardens. It builds on work of the original founder Dr Jimmy Smart and Malcolm Pharaoh (former Head Gardener). The collection show cases a range of plants that are unique to Marwood, many of which were selected, bred, raised or gifted to the garden.

The collection includes the following plants:

Malcolm Pharoah is awarded Plant Heritage’s prestigious Brickell Award 2020

The National Collection Holder grows over 200 cultivars of Astilbe at Marwood Hill Garden, Devon

Horticultural charity Plant Heritage is delighted to award north Devon-based Malcolm Pharoah, with their prestigious Brickell Award 2020, for his National Plant Collection of Astilbe held at Marwood Hill Gardens.

Updated 20th October 2020

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