If you've visited the Glasshouse at Wisley in the last 3 years, you may know that we have an area called the Glasshouse Gallery. We've used it for photo exhibitions, lectures and learning during Science Week, somewhere to learn about butterflies when we have tropical species in winter (which will be on again in January and February). But, until now it's never looked like a traditional gallery. Well, that's all changed for the next few weeks. Welcome to the Nerine Gallery.
These beautiful flowers are showcased to display their curled petals that come in a range of colours. Look closely and you can see how they catch the light with a kind of iridescent or ‘glittering’ effect. This is caused by the reflection of light by the pigment in the covering of the petals.
It is said that Nerine sarniensis, or Guernsey lilies, were named when a ship was wrecked many years ago on Guernsey (Sarnia is the traditional name for Guernsey). Some Nerine bulbs washed ashore and took root on the island's sandy beaches. Whatever the truth is regarding their arrival on Guernsey, nerines have been grown there ever since. Their real home though is South Africa, where they grow on rock ledges, mountainsides and other well-drained and arid habitats.
Probably best known to gardeners in the UK is Nerine bowdenii, the hardiest species (you can see these in the Walled Garden East). But most nerines, including the Nerine sarniensis on display here, are not frost hardy and require a frost free greenhouse or conservatory with a minimum temperature of 4 - 5°C.
If you'd like to learn more about nerines contact the Nerine and Amaryllid Society on http://www.nerineandamaryllidsociety.co.uk or explore our website http://www.rhs.org.uk/