The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


There are so many spiders everywhere, and this time of year, in fall, many of those spiders are busy building webs everywhere.  Once we had a home in a forest and when we would walk down the paths we learned to take a stick to wave in front of us to clear away webs we could not see because of the shade of the trees.  Where there is sunlight, the webs glisten as a breeze blows them, a magical effect.

My personal reaction to spiders is both fascination and fear.  They are many times beneficial in snaring harmful bugs, that is, bugs harmful to humans.  On the other hand, some spiders are themselves harmful to humans.  It’s one of those human versus nature situations.

 But there is another kind of spider that I love beyond all reason, a flowering bulb called a spider lily.  Their botanical name is lycoris, and oh, how exotic and lovely they are.    In addition to loveliness, the other great characteristic spider lilies have is that they are quite tough.  As with all other flowers in the plant kingdom, they have certain climate limitations of heat and cold, and requirements of shade or sun, but being bulbs, they have certain resources that mere ordinary plants do not always have, and if one is lucky and planting ‘spidies’ where they are happy, they come back to us again and again.    Not knowing what the exact perfect spot would be for my spidies, I have planted them in three or four locations in the garden. And according to differences of light and all that, they seem to bloom at slightly different times, which prolongs their presence in the garden.

My very favorite is the red spider lily, lycoris radiata, probably because it was the color I first saw.  Now we have a pink variety, the squamigera, that blooms in August, and a golden yellow color, lycoris aurea, that blooms right about now, too.  I love them all.  To paraphrase a song from “Finian’s Rainbow”, “when I’m not near the bloom I love, I love the bloom I’m near.”

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