When I moved into my house almost 30 years ago, my next-door neighbor was a charming lady in her 90s. She had lived in the old house almost her whole life, and she was a gardener.
There was a massive tomato garden on one side of the house, a charming bed of ancient peonies on the other, and a bed of sweet-smelling yellow daylilies that bloomed early in May.
Best of all were the pink flowers that suddenly sprouted in her lawn in the middle of August. They seemingly came from nowhere, two-foot high bare stems with pink blooms that looked a bit like dainty amaryllis.
When I asked her what they were, she laughed and blushed.
“My mother always called them ‘naked ladies,’” she said.
Gladys died a few years after that. Five sets of residents have lived in the house next door since then. The daylilies died out. Someone moved the peonies and didn’t bother to water them but they lived until later residents repeatedly cut them down with a lawn mower. I should have rescued those abused plants in the night.
Not long after Gladys died, the mysterious naked ladies disappeared too. Perhaps they lost heart after their loving caretaker was gone.
Later I found out that those pink blooms were Lycoris squamigera, a bulb that throws up green leaves in the spring, dies back and then explodes with bloom in August and September. They’re also called magic lily or resurrection lily.
I was poking around in the bins of bulbs at a garden center last week and there they were — Gladys’ naked lady bulbs, ready for planting. I have never seen them for sale here before.
I bought three. They’re listed for zone 5, a warmer place than the Twin Cities, but I’m willing to risk it. I buried them a bit deeper than the directions called for, watered well as the package called for and marked the spot with a stake.
I’ll mulch that spot well with leaves and see what happens next spring. Gladys lives on in my memories, but I would like a little bit of her in my yard, too.
Here’s a site with some more information on this lycoris. Are you planting bulbs this fall?