With luxurious fragrance, much stronger than in modern forms, the original Freesia alba, a small white wildflower native to the South African coast, grows from Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay.

Freesia Alba
Freesia Alba - Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It was first loved by the Victorians. There is no record of how it got there, but Freesia alba first appeared in the English nursery trade in 1878 and quickly spread to Europe and North America.

It appears to have caused quite a sensation, and appeared in almost every horticultural publication of note in both Europe and America in the years following its introduction.

It is a great choice for naturalizing in Mediterranean- climate gardens today. White freesia is one of the easiest Cape bulbs to grow in California. It makes a wonderful pot plant that can be enjoyed on a sunny patio, or it can be grown permanently outdoors in the garden.

Difficult to find, it is available by mail from Old House Gardens, whose stock of California-grown corms started with a handful collected from an old garden in Monterey.