Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

16.4.10

Drought over, according to lily.

Last month the naked ladies made their annual appearance, baring their slender limbs and opening their delicate pink blooms in the autumn sun.

Belladonna lilies (amaryllis) are a living relic of times gone by. They were a garden favourite decades ago. No-one puts them in any more, but the elderly bulbs still in the ground remain in blissful ignorance of garden fads and continue to flower annually. (Or not: more in the third paragraph.) You can see them around the countryside where old farmhouses once stood; and now there might be just a tumbledown shack, or the remains of an outhouse, or an old wire clothesline slung between two rotting posts, or even just the brick chimney of a long-gone timber house that has burned or crumbled away. The lilies can be seen close to what might have been the back or front door, and they pop up each year as if the house were still there and householders to marvel at their pinkness and beauty and put them in a vase on a mantel that isn't there any more. (Sometimes there are also fruit trees grown wild, or the occasional once-tame rose that has climbed and engulfed any remaining structure.)

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A few weeks ago, one of these pink beauties sprang out of the ground under an eave by the front door at the beach house. We have had the place since 1999 and the belladonna has never appeared in that time. Perhaps the drought really is over and the water table is reaching parts that haven’t seen sufficient moisture for more than a decade. That means Belladonnas are able to survive at least twelve years without water and without flowering, holding life deep inside themselves and waiting for the day when the return of reviving water sends them in search of light and warmth again.

Either that or someone is running around the peninsula and sticking bulbs in people's gardens at random. I doubt it!

2 comments:

paula said...

if someone has some spares i'd love some belladonna bulbs. i just love them, but have never seen them in the nurseries... the perfect dry garden bulb.

paula

kitchen hand said...

Pual, yes; they are ideal and they way they jump up overnight is amazing.