Every time I visit Cape Town, I am struck by the banks of Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox) that line so many of the roads there. Agapanthus are grown in private gardens and public parks all over the country. It is a hardy evergreen plant, so their glossy strap-shaped leaves provide a good cover. When they are in bloom en masse, the sight is breath-taking – yet so many people take them for granted and drive on without a second glance. They really are beautiful flowers! The name ‘Agapanthus’ is derived from the Greek agapé (= love) and anthos (= flower). It would be interesting to know why it would be called a ‘flower of love’. John Manning, the author of Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa, suggests this might be an allusion to their beauty.
When you come across Agapanthus blooming in their natural habitat you might be surprised to find they do not sport the large clusters of funnel-shaped flowers you might be more familiar with.
The buds emerge once the calyx has split and the colour intensifies as the buds swell before opening.
This cluster is a mixture of swollen buds and open flowers.
Even their seed-heads look attractive.
It is interesting that this plant that grows on rocky slopes on the coastal mountains of the south-western Cape, along the banks of streams and the thickets of the south-eastern part of the country, and on montane grasslands in the eastern parts of South Africa, has become an international garden denizen. Of course they have become hybridised into a variety of forms and colours.
You will find a really interesting and far more detailed article about these flowers at: