Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wild Women in the Garden

The heavy downpour of rain, last Saturday evening, marked the end of "Naked Ladies" flaunting their figures in our garden. No--I'm not talking about the wonderful women of all sorts, celebrating bridal shower teas, baby shower teas and/or garden clubs holding meetings here while having tea.  I'm talking about Naked Lady Lilies (Belladona amaryllis), of course! Those pretty in pink lacy flowers, whose greenery appears in early spring, then shed the leaves that once wrapped around their slender stems as soon as their rosey floral spring hats bloom to perfection.  I'm sure you have some "wild women" a.k.a. Naked Lady Lilies in your garden, too, and enjoyed their feminine fragrance and coquettish allure while they were blooming.

Black-Eyed Susan's, wild women in their own right, seem a bit timid in the presence of bold Naked Ladies.
Naked Lady Lilies sometimes called Belladonna Lilies or even Surprise Lilies (probably because they bloom all of a sudden after they lose their long leaves, just when you don't expect them to) bask beautifully in the heat of high summer.  They seem to dance wildly in the sunshine and unashamedly under the moonlight.  This year, it's a wonder that they didn't stick around for the solar eclipse next week!?!  I suppose they had other plans and did not want to share the solar/lunar spotlight, or lack there of.

This sorority of beauty queens has been around in the Southern United States since Thomas Jefferson introduced them to Monticello, way back in the 18th Century. He had little luck in growing them, as he wanted to constrain them to his greenhouse.  However, "Naked Ladies" have other ideas and enjoy their unabashed freedom in the light of a sultry summer day, sometimes springing up where no one ever thought they would grow.  They are considered hardy in zones 7-10.  They also thrive here at Blooming Hill, located in Zone 6B, and come back every year, preferring to stick closely together (strength in numbers, I presume, since they wear next to nothing.)

In the meaning of flowers, (Floriography), "Naked Ladies" really don't translate into what their name implies or anything else, for that matter.  However, if you take the meaning of Belladonna, the plant that is dangerous Nightshade and, combine it with the general meaning of a Lily, which is gaiety, coquetry and youthfulness, you kinda come up with a "Lolita-like" meaning for a Naked Lady Lily.  Just sayin'...

I can't recall ever planting Naked Lady Lily bulbs but somehow, they showed up in a garden border off of the back porch years ago and re-bloom every season.
So, their garden-style burlesque show is over for now and the ladies' performances have all but disappeared for the season. Yet, true to form, I know those seductive Naked Lady Lillies will boldly return to dance in all of their glory again and again, in our summer garden, for years to come.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Fireworks

Related imageJuly 4th is one good reason to celebrate our country.  It's also, at least to a serious gardener, a way to usher in high summer and relish the zinnias taking hold and savor the burgeoning vegetable garden. But, July 4th comes and goes all too quickly and the high humidity days of late July start eyeing the nasty dog days of August as it looms closer and closer until, one morning we wake up and find August is already upon us.  Already?!? Where did the fresh face of June go to? It seems to me that any day after the fourth of July is a blur of daily hand-to-hand combat with the weeds in lavender beds and, that battle does not yet look to be won during these first days of August and now waning summer. (#nuclear weeds!--haha)
Red Crepe Myrtle posing with it's friendly summertime neighbor, hydrangea.

However, along with these days where one can feel a little "hang-dog" while trying to refresh and replace spent plants in the herb and vegetable gardens, along with the ornamental borders, comes some beautiful bright spots in the August landscape. Here in the mid-Atlantic and southern regions, the beautiful shrubby tree and splendidly colorful Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) flaunts her graceful, arching branches in jewel tone colors.   

The pops and sprays of colors from white to purple (my favorite--no surprise there) to blood red explode like firecrackers along roadsides, next to homes and in fields of emerald green, illuminating their surroundings and lending freshness to August's white hot days. If their colors don't make you pause, just take a look at their textured, 3-D peeling bark for added drama.😏 Just sayin'...

The two immense "Natchez" Crepe myrtles that adorn the front of my home sprinkle summertime snowflakes down on our front walk for weeks and carpet the brick path with soft white petals that melt slowly into the ground, making this kind of flowery precipitation at times other-worldly.  By September, these summer blossoms have all but disappeared leaving behind green shiny berries that stay on the trees through winter, turning brown, and then into spring and even summer until a new crop of papery petals come forth.

Crepe myrtle derives its name from two things; first its leaves closely resemble the common herb, myrtle(Myrtus comunus) and secondly, its flower blossoms also have a wrinkly feel to them making them somewhat like crepe paper. These splendid mid-summer to fall beauties are hardy to around zone 5 making crepe myrtle a queen a the south and a rising star of the north as more varieties are introduced in the plant world.

In the Language of Flowers, the meaning of crepe myrtle stands for "eloquence" or "well-spoken" as its power of persuasion in letting us know that summer has no intention of relinquishing it's hold for quite sometime is on full display during the month of August.  So, let the fireworks continue and the colors burst free and wild from the flowers of crepe myrtle and let's celebrate the dog days of summer made so much brighter, due in large part, to the splendid nature of the Crepe myrtle.