Fabulous Friday: Hurricane Lilies

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August often proves to be awkward and uncomfortable here in coastal Virginia.  If it’s not the heat and humidity chasing us back inside, it’s the torrential rain.  Many mornings, when we first open the kitchen door to step outside, the air is so thick with humidity that we wish we had scuba gear.

Afternoon thunderstorms insure I won’t need to stand out in the mugginess with a hose to water, but they also keep the humidity and ‘ick’ factor high.

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Lycoris radiata, Hurricane lilies, appear after heavy rain some time in mid-to late August.

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The last morning I stood outside to water was Tuesday.  By the time I finished my ‘to do’ list, every stitch I wore, including my hat, was soaked with perspiration.  But I felt quite proud of myself for making the effort, as the forecast called for another hot and sunny day, with no rain until evening.

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Parts of the garden are looking a bit worn by mid-August. But I look past them to the beauties of our visitors.

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Well, by 11:30 that morning the skies opened and torrential rain caught us out on the roads, returning from the grocery store.  And every day since Tuesday we’ve been treated to the passing drama of rolling thunder, bright flashes of lightening, gusty winds and pelting rain.  We count ourselves lucky as the hail has mostly avoided our little bend in the river, but we know others nearby have endured hail and broken trees this week.

Sometimes, the storm passes quickly and allows the sun to burn through the clouds once again.  Curtains of steam rise from every paved surface and temperatures rise after the passing cool of the thunderstorm.

And then, yes, you guessed it:  another storm forms and passes over a few hours later.  We listen to thunder rolling in the distance during the night, and awaken to find the world wet from pre-dawn showers.

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Garlic chives and an emerald green fly.

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August proves a very wet month, most years.  It is a month of transition, preparing us for the first breath of autumn in September.

Along with the transition from summer to fall, we often have a hurricane or two blowing in from the Atlantic or up from the Gulf.  (Knock on wood) we have been very lucky thus far, this year.  May the blowing sands of the Sahara continue to keep things calm off the coast.

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For all of the inconveniences of August, there are also some treats and treasures.  I always look forward to our black-eyed Susans coming into bloom, filling our upper garden with their cheery golden faces.  I love watching the comings and goings of our butterflies and listening for the rare blessing of a visit from one of our hummingbirds.  And I especially love the unexpected surprise of seeing the bright red flowers of our Hurricane lilies, Lycoris radiata, when they suddenly pop into bloom.

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Lycoris burst into bloom after sudden, heavy rains; thus their moniker.  While spring bulbs are pretty predictable, these late summer bulbs time their bloom to the amount of heat and moisture in the soil.

One of those summer bulbs also known as ‘naked ladies,’ the bloom stalks appear suddenly, long before their leaves.  If you want to know more about Lycoris, you might enjoy this post about them from 2014.

I’ve never planted a whole bed of Lycoris, though I’m sure that would be stunning.  Rather, I plant a few here and there, just little accents and exclamation points to delight us and revive our spirits in August.  We only have the red, though they come in white, pink and yellow, too.

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I’m enjoying ours through the front windows, where a zipper spider has spun an enormous web, and on my occasional walks up the driveway.

The rain this week has ended up a blessing, as I’m still recovering from Lyme’s disease and wanting to stay indoors and away from the possibility of any more insect bites.  The rain and humidity have added another reason to stay in and do quiet things this week; and I’m grateful.

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But when I do wander outside, there are always new developments to enjoy.  There’s fresh growth to admire, new flowers blooming, a cutting that has struck roots, or a new spider web to examine.  The wonders unfold all on their own, a satisfying counterpoint to the inconveniences of August.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious- Let’s infect one another.

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

19 responses to “Fabulous Friday: Hurricane Lilies

  1. When I grew lycoris as cut flower in 1986, they were unheard of in home gardens. They are still rare. Naked ladies are of course very common. There are also others with white or red flowers, but I can’t remember their names. One of the neighbors grows them.

    • The Lycoris is a wonderfully hardy bulb, increases, and is such a delight in August. I hope more folks will plant them and enjoy them. The Heaths have been growing them in Gloucester and offering them for the last few years in their Brent and Becky’s Bulbs summer catalog. I don’t yet have any of theirs, but will get around to buying them one of these years. Do you still grow cut flowers?

      • I grew cut flowers only as an internship while I was still in school. I intend to return to growing rhododenrons and azaleas, as well as camellias, but not the blooms. Ideally, the best specimens get sent away before we see them bloom.
        I will not likely purchase any bulbs; but I do expect to eventually get some from someone else who grows them. It always seems to work out that way with something I want to grow. If I want it long enough, it just shows up. You would not believe what I find in the greenwaste recycle piles left at the curbs in San Jose!

  2. I’m sorry about the Lyme disease and hope you are recovering. I’m staying inside because I have an absolute phobia of snakes, we had a copperhead in our garage, and it’s the season for the copperheads to have their babies. My garden isn’t getting as much attention as it otherwise would. But I have to go out some, as we’ve had no rain with this terrible heat.

    • Oh, how awful to find a poisonous snake in your garage! I”m so sorry to hear about that. The first family who owned this house had a similar situation. He gardened, and she refused to step outdoors. She got into and out of her car in the garage, and otherwise stayed in the house. He planted so she could enjoy the flowers from the windows. I can co-exist with non-poisonous snakes, but you absolutely have to be cautious with copperheads in the yard!!! Have you considered drip irrigation for next year? Maybe on a timer? Sadly, there comes a time when you have to decide which is more important- your garden or your own well-being. Please take good care of yourself. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Thank you so much! I’ve hired someone now to take care of things, as my husband is an invalid. He was always the gardener but hasn’t been able to do anything for over 2 years now, as a result of a major stroke. The guy who’s doing the yard and garden now is trying to make things a little less snaky and cutting walking paths through areas that I used to just walk through. Even so, I won’t go out there much until October when copperhead season is over. I told him to watch out for snakes, and he said not to worry when he’s working in the mornings, as the snakes don’t come out until about 11 o’clock. LOL I have no idea if that’s true or not.

        • So very sorry to hear about your husband’s stroke, that has changed both of your lives so much. My parents both had strokes and so I understand, Mom has made great progress back from hers, but is still partially paralyzed, and won’t go outside alone anymore…. which is wise. Please encourage him to keep a good attitude and to know that the body heals in wonderful ways. Improvement is always possible.

          Do you know about a granular product called ‘snake away’? We buy it at the hardware store. Your yard guy could broadcast that for you around the perimeter of your property, or anywhere you are especially concerned with snakes. Cutting back the growth is so important, too. I hope you are able to get your garden back to where you are comfortable, and feel safe, going out to enjoy it. Since snakes are cold blooded, they are very slow until their body warms up, which is probably what your gardener meant. You should be OK if you wear boots and stay on the paths. Good luck ❤ ❤ ❤

          • Thank you for the tip about the “snake away.” I have to go to the hardware store soon, so I’ll look for it. Coincidentally, I was on our front porch this morning, and saw a snake on top of one the bushes that is level with the porch. It was a black racer, but it still freaked me out, especially since I heard the old wives’ tale when I was growing up about black racers chasing people. It was a very long snake and stayed on the bush for a very long time. I came back in the house. LOL Thank you for your kind comments about my husband. It’s been a while since the stroke. He lost half of his eyesight in both eyes, walks with great difficulty, lost his ability to process the written word and cannot read anymore, has difficulty expressing himself verbally, and has some stroke-related dementia. He can never be left alone for any length of time. I’m glad your mother has made progress in her recovery. That’s encouraging.

            • It is so difficult to see loved ones lose their abilities to function in the usual way, and to have trouble communicating. My father had both stroke damage and aggressive Parkinson’s disease. He was able to read and draw/paint until his last days, but his speech became very difficult and hard to understand. Many of the things he had always done with vigor and enthusiasm became nearly insurmountable challenges. He came to rely on books on CDs, which gave him hours of pleasure, when his sight made reading difficult. And yes, the dementia is heart breaking.

              Please take good care of yourself, as the role of caregiver requires tremendous energy and dedication… and unwavering love.

              The snakes in the yard must be all the more disturbing without your husband able to go out and address them. What a cheeky fellow, to lie there on a shrub by your porch! I’ve heard of them climbing up into hanging baskets. I hope you find the snake away and that it helps you rid your yard of snakes. I hope you will also make sure that all of the openings into your foundation/ basement, pet doors, etc. are well sealed. We had a large rat snake get into our basement when we first moved to this house- the electricians found it and took it out for us. Too close for comfort! Take care ❤ ❤ ❤

              • Thank you for all your kind words. How wonderful that your father was able to continue painting and drawing. My husband was a watercolor artist but now doesn’t paint at all. He does enjoy being read to, and I read to him every day.

                Again, thank you for the “snake away” tip. I hope it works!

                • Dad was a watercolor artist, too. What a beautiful medium. I took Dad a sketchbook and selection of colorful pens during his last hospitalization, and he got a ‘second wind,’ producing wonderful sketches from his bed. He gave a lot of portraits away to hospital staff, and completed a beautiful landscape that he gave to me. He worked right up to the day of his final surgery and it brightened his mood. Maybe there is something your husband can still do to express himself creatively. It is wonderful how much function can come back, even after a serious stroke, over time. Snake Away helps- Milorganite (an organic fertilizer) might help, too. We use it all over our property to control deer. I’ve not seen a single snake since we’ve been using it….

  3. Sorry to read you have had Lyme. Ticks can now carry up to 14 diseases, both bacterial and viral. I’ve had 5, which will probably plague me for the rest of my life. But I can’t see giving up gardening like I’ve given up walking in the woods, it is too much a part of who I am and what I do in this life. If you want to read an eye-opener, I recommend “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons” by Kris Newby.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Eliza. I’m so sorry to hear that you have experienced 5 of the many illnesses vectored by ticks. It would seem that they wouldn’t be so much of a problem in your climate. Now, we are also worried about several new mosquito born illnesses. New ones turn up with frightening speed. I am well protected when I’m gardening, head to toe. It is the odd trips outside, in normal clothing, where I pick up the bites. I got this tick bringing in some groceries, with bare legs and no insect repellent. Thanks for the recommendation on the book. I’ve read about it but have not yet read it. I know that insect vectored bio-weapons is a controversial subject and will be debated for a while. I can tell you that the one little tick- that I removed promptly- has made a serious impact on my life this summer, as I’m sure the ticks that bit you have impacted yours. Have you tried liquid colloidal silver? It has anti-viral as well as anti-bacterial properties. I’m using it along with the antibiotic a doc prescribed, and I can tell it has been helping. Please take good care of yourself, Eliza, e

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