Monday, January 13, 2014

Amaryllis, Sparkling Bloomer of Winter

They say that good things come to those who wait.  Consider the amaryllis, (Hippeastrum, spp.) a bulbous beauty of a blossom that seems always to arrive too early for the debutante parties of spring, continually misses the summer regalia's and tends to sleep straight through all of the fall gatherings and holiday cotillions only to wake up barely in time for New Year's. Then, finally this fabulous bloom, with her little sister petals in tow, unfolds her skirts and brightens up the dark days of January and even into February.

Claiming the Andes Mountains of Chile and Peru, and even parts of South Africa, as her native homelands, this flower maiden that comes in brilliant red, soft pink, sparkling white and even variegated color combinations, brings us a breath of fresh air and sunshine just when we might need it most. Outside, the gardens and lavender beds are either under 6 inches of snow or swimming in rain water with plant roots holding on for dear life, thanks to the prevailing weather fronts passing through and something called a polar vortex blowing by.  Inside, the amaryllis, oblivious to all of that, poses dreamily on her platform of soft, supple green and lets her petals drink in the warmth of a cozy home as they slowly open and greet the day.

In the language of flowers, amaryllis conveys splendid beauty wrapped up in an air of timidness--an aura that could be mistaken for pride and haughtiness. I imagine that poor--well, wealthy really-- Mr. Darcy might have given one to Lizzy in "Pride and Prejudice" before they got everything straightened out. The amaryllis is also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries and it's characteristics of passion, enthusiasm and adventure. Perhaps this is why Lizzy and Mr. Darcy seem to have a bit of a tempestuous relationship, of sorts, in the beginning.

Of course, you can't blame the flirtatious amaryllis for sleeping most of the year through.  She is the star of her own show at this time of the year, relishing all of the attention afforded her.  Envision Marilyn Monroe in her pretty white dress standing over a heating grate playfully smiling as her skirt floats and flies all around her. All is right with the world in the mind of this sleeping beauty who daydreams the year away in the cocoon of a brown shell becoming the colorful muse of the winter months.

So, consider the amaryllis. Better still, invite one into your home and watch it come to life before your eyes. This winter bloomer is certainly worth it!

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