It’s Surprise Lilly time in Indiana.
Some people call them Naked Ladies. Others call them Ressurrection Lillies.
Technocrats call them Lycoris Squamigera, a member of the amaryllis family.
I call them tricky.
They come up early in the spring in the form of lush green foliage. Here they are back in early April, standing tall over the young shoots of Trout Lillies and Daylillies:
They gather the energy of the spring sun through their foliage and store it in their bulbous roots for later. As spring advances toward summer they disappear. The foliage melts into the ground and the plant seems to be long gone.
Eventually, in the heat of the summer…. about the time the Bee Balm fades…
And the big butterflies feast…
They poke their naked stems out of the ground and bloom gloriously, gracing the landscape with their spring-like beauty for a week or two.
They make for beautiful, fragrant bouquets.
They appear to be incongruous with the heady summer season, though they seem to be sympathetic with the little pink Hollyhocks and Cosmos.
And contrast nicely with the pretty orange wildflowers.
They try to fit in with the wild, summer gardens, but don’t quite succeed.
But that’s O.K. because Ninja Kitty thinks they are cool.
Me too! 🙂
Bouquet Credit: Firefox
61 thoughts on “Surprise!”
Oh! How lovely, Jim! My Indiana wife will be sooo homesick when she sees all the grandeur of her home state! Thank you!!
Thanks. I bet it will be good for her. Indiana is not one of those states that causes people to immediately think of grandeur and natural beauty, but we have it in spades. One goal of this blog is to show what one little piece of the earth is like, week by week, season by season. It happens to be in lush, wonderful Indiana. 🙂
Thanks. They really are. It is my pleasure to share. 🙂
What kind of person calls them resurrection lillies and what kind of person calls them naked ladies?
I love a comment which makes me laugh upon reading. Thanks for that. 🙂 Now, I’m not sure I can shed any more light on that question than you have already thought through, but your comment begs the question: are these reasonable descriptions? I mean, if I walk into a room of complete strangers and proudly announce that I have a garden full of resurrection lillies, the people will conjure a certain vision which might not be far off. If I announce with the same proud tone that I have a garden full of naked ladies, they will conjure a very different vision. How they respond to that vision gets back to your original question, but I might have a lot more visitors to the garden. 🙂
Ha, yep, good points all, I guess it all comes down to what kind of visitors you want in your garden.
Maybe depending on the day of the week, or your mood…
🙂 – or is that 😉 ?
What stunning flowers, Jim!
And do I spy a cat with my little eye? Yes, I did.
Ninja Kitty, always the ham. Are these flowers in bloom in your area, now? Or later? I expect you have them. They are EVERYWHERE around here this week.
Pretty much the same, Jim. But those lilies. Holy wow! They are so lovely.
What a beautiful gallery, Jim! I’m loving your flower posts. 🙂
Thanks Amy. Always my pleasure. Always! 🙂
I love the way these lillies stand tall and proud. Question for you, I planted bee balm last year, and it was so pretty this year. Do you dead head these or just let them fade into the sunset?
Thanks. Bee Balm – I usually let it fade until there is nothing but seed pod left, at which point they are looking quite rough and hardly gracing the garden with their majestic beauty. Then I deadhead them and collect the seeds. Truth be told, I probably deadhead too early for viable seeds, as I rarely get them to grow from the collected seeds. I’m always wanting to propagate more Bee Balm, but have mostly only succeeded in propagating them by giving them room to spread their roots (they are a mint, you know). Currently, we’re trying a couple other methods, with cuttings in soil and cuttings in water. We’ll see. One note – the key to Bee Balm in this humid climate is to give them plenty or air, lest they become mildewy. As you might observe in the pictures, I grow a very dense garden, but I make sure the Bee Balm can breathe. 🙂
Thanks Jim! I didn’t know if I could keep it blooming by deadheading. Since that’s not the case, I will let it go through it’s less than beautiful stage.
Now you have me thinking. Should I deadhead this flower early and get more blooms? Hmmm. I’ll have to try that in select spots next year. I was informed in an earlier comment that if you cut them immediately they will bloom again. It might be worth trying to cut them a little more just to further my interaction with the amazing lemony mint smell. Oh that smell. How I love that smell. 🙂
I will try it next year and see if I can keep the blooms coming too.
Absolutely stunning! I love all the pale pink and all the nuances of purple. What a splendor of God’s Creation!
Thanks. The colors just go on and on and on. I always marvel at the intricacy and variety of the flowers. 🙂
Beautiful lilies with personality all their own. They look like a chorus line in vaudeville . Start the music and watch them dance! As resurrection lilies they pop up unexpectedly, a welcome spectacle! Thanks for sharing, Jim. Blessings to you…
“A welcome spectacle.” That is an excellent way to state the particular phenomenon of the surprise lillies, showing up bare legged and springlike in late summer. Thanks. 🙂
Gorgeous colour! And ninja kitty has the cutest face ever.
Thanks Debra. I’m sure ninja kitty would agree completely. Either she really likes me or knows when I am taking pictures, because she has a habit of putting herself in the middle of what I’m trying to capture. This time, it provided a fine effect. She’s a fun cat. 🙂
Are they in bloom again? My Mock orange seems confused, it bloomed in Early Spring and it looks like it is getting ready to do it again. Love your cat, although I have told you that before.
Yep, blooming all over central Indiana. I’m sure your Hoosier husband remembers them well. I’m not familiar with mock orange, but if it is giving you a double show, that’s a good thing. I hope. Kitty appreciates your support, as always. Me too. 🙂
Your Lilly ladies are gorgeous Jim here in England we have some Lillie’s in our garden. My personal favourite are the beautiful white Lily. The scent is heavenly x
Thanks Eily. So many kinds of lillies, so many little delicate touches. These (which are really a form of amaryllis) are also quite fragrant. The bouquet proved that. Have a wonderful day. 🙂
Interesting. They’re beautiful. Their habit reminds me of autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale,) also called naked ladies.
They are quite lovely, yes. I did not know of the autumn crocus. I have not experienced other plants which behave like this, but supposed there must be a few, at least. It seems a pretty effective way to bloom. They are able to bloom in the deep shade in the summer, as they gain their energy from the sun before the leaves come on the trees. Quite the strategy.
How lovely these lilies are, I wish they could grow over here! Photos are stunning as always, I adore the one with the butterfly, and Ninja Kitty is totally cool 🙂 It’s really refreshing to watch your photos, they truly heal the soul!
Thanks Tamellu. Since I posted yesterday, I have wondered about their range. I know I saw pictures of them in South Africa from the southern winter (six months ago or so). I bet they would bloom in your area, but might not be common. They are super common around here. They are literally blooming all over town. Big beautiful stands of them in yards which otherwise have no flowers at all. I bet you would find that healing for the soul. 🙂
What wonderful photos: I’m glad you included all the other flowers, particularly the hollyhocks and cosmos — they are a wonderful “supporting cast” for the “Leading Ladies”! And the butterfly and Ninja Kitty almost steal the scene! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks. Yes, the butterfly and kitty are quite the scene stealers. We must keep the stars on their toes, you know. 🙂
I have never seen these flowers. They are absolutely beautiful and such and interesting growing pattern.
Hi Tilly. That is very interesting that you have not seen them. They are ultra common here in central Indiana. I would have thought that they would be present in Michigan as well. I bet they can survive in the climate. It must be a cultural thing. Like, they were popular around here 60 years ago and being a hardy bulb, just keep going and going and going. The particular stand I show in my photos were present when we moved into our house 15 years ago and come back every year, no matter how harsh the winters. 🙂
Me too Jim!
You, me and Kitty. It is always wise to be on the same side as Ninja Kitty. Have a great day, Julie. 🙂
Beautiful! It just occurred to me that I once had a small clump of these but I haven’t seen them in years. Probably accidentally dug into them when they were between foliage and flower. Probably time to get some more. Do you know if they’re planted in the spring or in the fall?
I bet you can plant them any time of year. They are seriously tough bulbs. I was also thinking that you might find them useful, given your shade. It depends upon the kind of shade you have. If conifers, too bad. But if deciduous trees, you might find that they are able to gain their vital energy in the spring before the leaves come on and then bloom marvelously in the shade at this time of year. The big stand I showed in the post is in substantial shade during the summer and really only fit for ivies and hostas – barely that – but the surprise lillies brighten it nicely for a brief period. Have a good day, Grower. Thanks so much for your regular comments. 🙂
It would be wonderful to have them round here in big quantities, maybe this year with lots of humidity they would grow, but we usually have very hot and very dry summers, our weather used to be the perfect description of so-called continental climate. Watching your photos is definitely a unique experience, it’s like floating away to some better, much more beautiful world! 🙂
That is such a nice compliment. You give me much motivation to continue to share our pretty little piece of the earth. And you make me appreciate what we have. That is always a good thing. Cheers. Have a great day. 🙂
I truly mean that, I am amazed by how beautiful both the garden and the photos are, I was showing them to my mother the other day and she found everything absolutely adorable, too. I usually blog at end of the day as I go to bed very late and I like when everything is still and quiet to dedicate myself to something creative, but this is usually also the period when all the anxieties of the day sum up, sometimes even to the point that it is very hard to get asleep – watching your beautiful photos, their vivid colors, reading your stories at that time makes me both happier and more relaxed, there is that special wow effect that fills you with joy when you see something really gorgeous. These are totally honest words and I mean it, just go on working on your garden and enjoying it, it is indeed precious having such a piece of your own land! I’ve been to the States once, but not to Indiana – it is wonderful to discover how beautiful it is. It is highly improbable that I will get back over there ever again, but your photos will speak thousand words and help me get to know more about the beauty of your country. Cheers to you too and have a wonderful Sunday!!! Tanja
oops I missed our comment thread, but you’ll figure it out 😀 Best wishes! Tanja
How glorious, thanks Jim for sharing your garden. The pictures take my breath away. – Sharon
Thanks Sharon. It seems like we have a fair trade, you and me. I like your art, you like my garden. 🙂
Thank you. They really are. Very hardy and quite dependable as well. 🙂
Magnifique et folle étendue fleurie ! Le regard se perd avec plaisir au milieu de cette jungle florale et colorée. Bravo pour le bouquet, ces fleurs qui ont une belle ligne élancée, serrées dans un vase transparent : vraiment élégant et délicat. 🙂
Merci mon ami, mon jardinier français préféré. As-tu cette fleur en Alsace? Il est un bel été ici. J’aime beaucoup. 🙂 Merci pour le compliment sur le bouquet. Je vais passer ton compliment à madame Firefox. J’espère que tu as un jour merveilleux. Il est bon de tu entendre. 🙂
Je pense que peut-être on peut trouver cette fleur en Alsace, mais je ne l’ai pas encore vue. J’étais un peu en vacances, c’est pour cela que vous ne m’avez pas trop entendue et après les vacances, il y avait du travail au jardin… Beau sunday 🙂 !
Le jardin n’attend pas alors que nous sommes en vacances. Bonne Lundi. 🙂
Great use of storytelling with the pictures. I really liked the ninja cat at the climax of the Naked Lily life cycle.
Thank you most sincerely. Little Kitty is always glad to be at the climax. Trust me, that is that cat’s style. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting and have an excellent day.
My pleasure. Have a bright and colorful day too. 🙂
Hi, Jim. I grew up with these lilies being called ‘Bella Donna’ lilies. They have the reputation here of being super tough. They grew in the sandy soil of my mother’s garden near the sea side and they grow here in the clay and rocky soil of Castlemaine. They also like to grow in the cool climate of the central highlands.They are drought and frost hardy. They are one of those plants which continue to thrive as remnants of gardens which have long disappeared.
Whilst pale pink is the most common colour, I have also seen these lilies with white or deep pink flowers.
Thanks Margaret. You confirm what I had been thinking. You see, they are incredibly common in my town. Many, if not most, yards have them for the short period when they bloom. I had been thinking that they must be remnants of older flower gardens which are no longer present, except for these lillies. Of course, having a short, beautiful bloom period, they charm even the most determined grass mower and are allowed to bloom where other flowers might be deemed weeds. Curiously, I got the sense from the comments that they are not necessarily that common in other parts of the US. Not even in other parts of the midwest. It must be that they were quite the thing in central Indiana once upon a time and now, outlasting the old gardens, they continue to grace our summer season with their spring like demeanor. Am I right in recalling that you lived in Michigan for a number of years? Did you see them there? Of course, all this makes me wonder about those old gardens…… 🙂
super and lovely your Ninja Kitty 🙂 Thank you, love, nia
I saw some of those lilies the other day for the first time, very briefly. I would never have known what they were if i didn’t see them here!
I’m enjoying checking out your blog–it seems we have a lot of the same flowers in our gardens! I refer to Surprise Lilies as Anniversary Lilies, as they are generally in bloom around August 17. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos! 🙂
Thanks. I’m glad you are enjoying it. It is my genuine pleasure sharing the photos. Yes, the lilies, whatever we call them, are quite consistent in their bloom period. A real treat in the heat of summer. Your name is now the fifth I know of for those interesting flower. 🙂
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