Oh boy, was I ever surprised! I knew that one of the common names for Lycoris squamigera was "Surprise Lily," but when one cropped up in my garden this year, I was stunned speechless by this clear pink beauty. Right in the midst of the recent month-long drought and heat cycle, this plant was developing right under my nose and then it exploded in color while everything else in the garden was looking tired and worn.
For those who haven't grown one yet, there isn't a much easier plant for Kansas. Buy a large bulb, plant it, forget about it, and up it will come to brighten a dreary August day. Lycoris is supposed to be adapted to regions with wet springs and long summer droughts and if that doesn't describe the Flint Hills, I don't know what does. The Surprise Lily is also known by a number of other quite descriptive names, my favorites of which are "Resurrection Lily" and "Naked Ladies." The first of those names seems very appropriate since the foliage of this member of the Amaryllis family sprouts and grows in the spring, dies in June, and then the tall stalk and 4 inch trumpet-shaped flowers appear in just a few days in August. The second name, "Naked Ladies," obviously refers to the lack of leaves around the solo stems when the flowers appear. Gardeners aren't generally a group of hopeless reprobates, but we do have our little giggles, don't we?
I do have one bias about Surprise Lilies that may surprise you. Recently, every day as I go to work I pass a yard with a couple of beds filled with nothing but Surprise Lilies (think how differently that sounds than if I said I passed a bed of Naked Ladies). The in-mass effect of these lilies in the bed doesn't have the effect on me that clumps of Surprise Lilies spread out among other perennials and shrubs do, so I think I'm going to spread mine out in clumps over my beds. Better to have a little less of a good thing than to overdo it.
I've got to go out this Fall to find more of these bulbs to spread around my garden. But first, does anyone have any suggestions regarding what I should tell Mrs. ProfessorRoush when the credit card bill shows up in September with multiple entries for "naked ladies?"