This winter-blooming bromeliad (ht 50cm) comes from Brazil. Its blooms are thick bristles of purplish-pink bracts tipped with iridescent blue bead-like flowers: the whole effect is of a bunch of surreal-looking matchsticks. After flowering, the spike turns dark pink for a long period. Like many members of the bromeliad family it will grow in hopeless, shady corners and even in places where there is hardly any soil. It can form an attractive, low-maintenance groundcover as it multiplies well: my large patch started with a single plant passed over the fence from a neighbour.