Thursday’s Feature: Bessera elegans

I really need to apologize for yet again neglecting comments and neglecting blog visits and for neglecting most of the fun interactions which make blogging so rewarding.  I think on Tuesday I went on about how lazy I’ve been lately, but now I’m afraid it’s becoming borderline rude, so for that I apologize.  That said I’m not really worried about offending anyone, I think most who read this have their own busy lives which heat up and cool down, but I figured I’d throw it out there just in case.  I really do appreciate the interactions.

But it is already late on Thursday and since it’s a day when I like to join up with Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome for her Thursday’s Feature it looks like another night of post first, blogworld later.  Who could blame me for just wanting to sit here for a few minutes before bed and write about Bessera elegans anyway?

Bessera elegans

The dainty yet boldly colored flowers of Bessera elegans.  a bulbous goodie from Southwestern Mexico.

Before I get you too excited, this plant has long, sloppy, narrow leaves which flop all over the ground.  The non-hardy, bulblike corms seem to rot easily during winter storage.  It doesn’t like cold weather.  I’ve seen it referred to as “fussy”.  All of these are good enough reasons to plant a marigold instead but then the flowers come and you’re hooked.  The color is saturated bright and they hang in clusters at the top of long wiry stems.  For as spineless as the foliage is the flower stems never seem to need support, and they hoist the flowers up to dance in any breeze which happens to come through on a hot and muggy summer day.  I’ve heard them described as like a red snowdrop, but I don’t see it.  To me maybe parachute, umbrella, maybe a little fairy…. I don’t know, it’s a cool form with the long stamens and pistils sticking out of the inner skirt, and before I start sounding too wacky I’ll leave it to you to find a better description 🙂

Bessera elegans

I didn’t notice the spider lying in wait, but I do notice the odd greenish pollen every time I do a closeup examination of these elegant little flowers.

My bulbs originally came through Brent and Becky’s and the fact I’ve been able to get blooms from it each of the last three years says a lot for its toughness.  I’ve always grown them in pots in a well draining potting soil and they seem to appreciate regular water and full sun and just take off during the growing season.  The flowers last for a relatively long time and there are several flowers on each stalk.  I would almost say they’re easy then, but when winter rolls around the trouble starts.  Without revealing how close I’ve come to killing them each winter (last year I was truly amazed those last remaining spots of corm even grew let alone bloomed), I’m just going to say my best success has been keeping them bone dry and on the warm side when in storage… but I’m open to advice on this.

I really have no business adding any more plants which need pampering over winter but such is curiosity.  The red version is cheap enough (10 for $6 last time I looked) that one can just plant and abandon them once winter arrives, but there are other colors and of course other colors mean collecting opportunity.  I’ve seen mention of crimson, pink, lavender, and a dark purple, each with varying flower sizes and markings, and of course I want to try all of them.  Telos Rare Bulbs has the “outstanding” purple form for sale but at $15 a piece I’m reminded of how poorly my current plants survive the winter and it’s taking all my strength of reason to resist.  It even says “few available” and that does absolutely nothing to calm me down.

I will wrap it up here.  I need to get some rest before someone clicks and orders something they shouldn’t, but in the meantime please consider a visit to Kimberley’s blog and see what others have featured this Thursday.  I was fortunate enough to have her pay a visit to my own garden last weekend, and had she not needed to rush off early I’m sure I would have gone on and on about this plant.  As it is I’m sorry she missed it 🙂

13 comments on “Thursday’s Feature: Bessera elegans

  1. Cathy says:

    Very pretty flowers Frank. Not sure I would spend so much on a single bulb, but it would be interesting to see how the other colours look. 😉

    • bittster says:

      So far I haven’t placed the order, I guess it’s going to be one of those things which sit on the back burner for a few years and then suddenly show up on your doorstep 🙂

  2. I’m so lazy I didn’t even get Thursday’s feature up yesterday! It’s on the schedule for this morning, though!

    • bittster says:

      -and you thought you were lazy… I didn’t even make it this Thursday.
      Hopefully that’s it though, rain tomorrow and I think this might be the last of my summertime sloth!

  3. Ugh. I had a comment almost all written, and then I made the mistake of clicking on one of the pictures to look at it more closely, and POOF, my comment was gone! It was the most BRILLIANT of comments ever, too!!!

    Anyway, that IS a beautiful flower, and I’m sorry I missed it on Saturday! Is it up on the deck with all the containers? I kind of see snow drop, but it’s a stretch. How big are the flowers, and how tall are the stems?

    I don’t know that I would have your patience with the corms’ winter fussiness. Maybe patience isn’t the right word. It’s more likely that I would indeed bring them in and probably even treat them “right” (if they like to be dry and warm, I would probably put them in a paper lunch bag with a few holes punched in it and hang them from the top shelf of a bedroom closet, just like I do with the herbs I occasionally remember to pick and dry), but then I would completely forget to do anything with them in the spring, and along about August of the next year, I’d finally take them down, declare them dead, and chuck them! Or MAYBE I’d actually write a note on a post-it and stick it to the May calendar page, and I’d remember! MAYBE!

    I can see where you’d be tempted to try other colors. I can see you weighing it out in your hands–“Do I buy more fancy snowdrops, or an outstanding purple Bessera? Hmmm . . .”

    • bittster says:

      In case you’re wondering I opted for expensive corydalis instead of the coolest Bessera. We all have to pick our own battles you know.
      Also in case you’re wondering, there was never any question about adding a few new and overpriced snowdrops. I had to have them and I would have paid more if you really are looking for honesty here. Now I just have to figure out how to pay for the next visit to Home Depot since my money has gone to Galanthus.
      The corms of these little flowers weren’t planted until way later than they should have been. I sometimes wonder how nice my garden would be if I could only get off my butt and show a little initiative and organization. Next year, I’m sure 🙂

  4. Pauline says:

    Such a pretty flower, but I think it would need too much cosseting over the winter, I’ll just have to enjoy yours each year!

    • bittster says:

      Eventually an autumn will come along when I look at things like this and turn away in disgust leaving them to die in the snow. It’s happened before and who knows when it will rear its ugly head again. If asked I would have to say tender succulents are on the thinnest ice right now.

  5. […] please feel free to join in.  Just leave a comment below with a link to your post.  Cathy and Frank have both contributed this week; you can click on their names to find their beautiful […]

  6. Christina says:

    My spending is now focused on plants that thrive rather than those that need pampering but this is a beauty and if ever I should see it for sale I would be tempted.

  7. Wow … truly a striking bloom. Kind of like a cross between a Fuschia and a Columbine, with the color of Lobelia cardinalis but with a touch more violet! Sounds too fussy for me, but I’ll happily enjoy the pictures on your blog.

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