Helen Dillon’s Libertia

Without a shadow of doubt, the most beguiling plant in my garden in May is Libertia ixioides.

The version I have grown for several years, in both my new and my old garden, came from the Great Dixter nursery. The original – which I decided to leave behind when I moved here – was described on its label as ‘Helen Dillon’s variety’.

When I went to Dixter for a replacement the great Helen Dillon’s name was absent from the label, and I have to admit that the new plant – now well established in my tiny gravel garden – is perhaps marginally less refined than my original. But how can I describe this lovely trouble free, spiky, evergreen?

When in flower, the Persil-white flowers on dusky stems look like clouds of tiny white moths hovering over the foliage. It is now in sumptuous bud – I will photograph it as soon as it does its stuff. Watch this space.

PS Trivia fans might want to know – Libertia (pronounced lee-bert-ee-a) comes from New Zealand, and is named after a 19th century Belgian botanist, Marie L. Libert. So now you know.


4 thoughts on “Helen Dillon’s Libertia

  1. Absolutely agree about libertia. I’ve got lots of it, much of it unintentional since it self-seeds like crazy, and three sorts: grandiflora, ixioides and ixioides ‘Goldfinger’. For something that seems close to the perfect plant (evergreen, lovely flowers, grows in sun or shade, does well in a pot) I’m always amazed by how few people recognise it. And those who do tend to remark on the self-seeding propensity rather than its virtues. I’ve got a pic of mine on my website if you want to have a look. Huge fan of your column, by the way

  2. Hi Helen, I recently purchase the ixioides version of this plant earlier in the year and was thrilled when it flowered – obviously its stopped now and there are pods where the flowers used to be. I want to try and collect seeds to grow plants for my mum and sister and assume that the those pods are the way to do it. Can you offer any tips for me?


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