I thought I had been let down. I thought that they had died or else the squirrels had gotten to the bulbs in a fit of winter-hunger and eaten every last one. In the past week as I've driven about the area, I've noticed surprise lilies nearly everywhere, even in unclaimed ditches beside the road, gathering no care at all.
So where were mine?
Then, last evening, I was walking around with the hose, watering the gardens and a few select flowers, when ...
Beside a pine stump upon which I have placed an old metal washtub filled with marigolds, I saw the spikes begin to appear. I've come back twelve hours later and they have quadrupled in size. My Surprise Lilies have survived!
I was given a bag full of bulbs several years ago by Donna Ney and planted them in two places, here and beside the hen house. Also known as the Magic Lily or the Resurrection Lily, I like better there more common name: Naked Ladies. They are known scientifically as Lycoris squamigera.
I've enjoyed watching Donna blush when I tell her I think of her ever time the Naked Ladies bloom.
In any case, watching them erupt for the ground twice each season is enchanting. First, along with other spring flowers, they send forth leaves which gather a quick soaking of sunshine and then die away. In no time at all they are wholly gone and the ground returns to bare.
This year it has been even more striking with our lack of rainfall. I suspected that it was the dryness that has spelled their demise. But for the past two days, they have been building a long spire and are just now beginning to open their pick-lavender blooms.
These by the hen house present a beautiful contrast to the worn appearance of the wood, something I have not painted in many years. I have decided the wood looks better natural and it requires no work to leave it that way. For a short week or so, the Surprise Lilies give the old hen house a look of splendor.
There, nestled among the dried pine needles and rocks are these spires of deep green with expanding royal tops. Within another day they were look like purple trumpets, proclaiming late summer's arrival.
So I have not been let down after all. Nature's clock still ticks and is unaffected, more than a few days, by the dryness. It marches on this year just as it has every year. I should have suspected as much.
Two days later (08/16/11) here's how the blooms look ...