Saturday, August 3, 2013

Amaryllis Belladonna



The lovely Amaryllis Belladonna, in all her glory, has been attending the garden party for the past several weeks. Commonly called ‘Naked Ladies they appear from a leafless base and are also called ‘Surprise Flowers’ for their overnight appearance in the garden from a barren spot. The stunning Naked Lady comes from a clump forming bulb. Each year the bulb will increase in size and the flowers will appear at the outermost edge so over the years one bulb becomes a mass of exquisite flowers.



The foliage appears in the garden in the very early spring and looks at first like emerging jonquil leaves. Very soon however the foliage out-grows everything around it and begins to collapse early in the season, requiring binding or staking to keep it from overshadowing its neighbors. The foliage dies away and is easily removed as dried debris late in May. The spot in the garden now appears quite bare until mid-July when suddenly the forgotten flowers begin to appear. A tall sturdy stem emerges and supports a mass of six to twelve exquisite purplish-pink flowers which have a heady and intoxicating fragrance. Flowering at irregular intervals, they add long-lasting beauty to the garden and are also a lovely cut-flower for arrangements, lasting almost a week in the cool of the house.
This wonderful plant seems undisturbed by severe growing conditions and will bloom faithfully in shade or sun regardless of the heat. The ease of these ‘Ladies’ growing habits makes even a novice gardener joyful and will add beauty and grace to any garden setting. Often planted with Shasta daisies to cover the bare base, they bloom at the same time allowing for a visual garden bouquet. As with so many of our lovely flowers this one is originally from South America where it grows in wild abandon in dry and dusty sites.



Mine arrived in my garden quite by accident. When my Daddy died in July of 1994 I was distraught and could not be comforted. I was walking in my garden the day after his funeral when the most beautiful flower I had ever seen appeared miraculously. It was the first of 12 Naked Ladies to arrive, one each day for 12 days, each in an odd place in my garden. Since no one recalled planting them my family has long maintained that my father sent them to me from Heaven.