This is a winter-blooming bulbous perennial from South Africa and a relative of the familiar 'society garlic' (Tulbaghia violacea) many of us grow in our gardens and which blooms for much of the year during the warmer months. Tulbaghia belong to the Amaryllidaceae family of plants. Tulbaghia simmleri (ht 45 to 60 cm) has larger star-shaped flowers, though of the same pretty lilac colour as society garlic, and these are clove scented. There is also a white-flowered version.
The leaves of Tulbaghia simmleri are broader than those of T. violacea, and whilst it does well in a sunny spot, it will also bloom very well in partly shaded sites. It is a pretty companion to the winter-flowering goldfussia Strobilanthes anisophyllus or burgundy Salvia elegans Purple and is also attractive with a skirt of silver-striped Tradescantia zebrina growing around it. To propagate, divide the bulbs in spring after flowering has finished. Groom the plant in winter by removing shabby old leaves.
This bulb was previously known as Tulbaghia fragrans. The current name honours Paul Simmler, the chief gardener of the Boissier Collections in Geneva, who cultivated the specimens collected in the Transvaal.