The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Names of Old Friends

Those who garden frequently give plants whimsical names:  Sweet William, hurricane lilies, naked ladies, pinks - there are so many.  And I'm fine with that, except ... my lot in life as a gardener has been a major case of curiosity.  I read about plants and then I want to see what they look like, and frequently I want to try to grow them.  And over the years, I've learned that if I am interested in a particular plant, I need to know its botanical name as well as its nick-name, or I may not find what I'm looking for.  There is one particular plant, a bulb whose name is rhodophiala, that I've grown for 40 years.  I fell in love with it because it grew and bloomed and thrived for me.  Of course, I later learned it does that for everyone!  But when I was given a start of it, it was called fall amaryllis.  Over the years, trying to learn its botanical name, I found it also called amaryllis bifida, school house lily, blood lily, hurricane lily, naked lily.  It took me literally years, and the internet, to finally figure out its personal and very own name.  Knowing finally that name did not make me love it any more or any less; I had its company all those years, through moves and adventures.  But every fall, when the fall amaryllis pop up and bloom, usually after a good fall rain, I say to them, "I know you."

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