Saturday, December 17, 2011

Confessions of an Amaryllis Convert

My first Amaryllis bloomed today. It's a beautiful candy-striped variety named 'Minerva' that I picked up in the discount bin our our local garden center a few weeks ago. It was on sale because it had already started to sprout and wouldn't make the best holiday gift plant if it bloomed before Christmas. So there it sat with other early premature bloomers, marked down to $5 a bulb.

You might be wondering why this is my first Amaryllis. It's not exactly an uncommon plant, and I've been gardening for most of my 40 years on this earth. Well, it's because I've never taken Amaryllis seriously. They make me giggle like a ten year old because of an Amaryllis my mother grew when we were kids. It was nicknamed Willie. For those of you unfamiliar with the growth habit of Amaryllis, it's ....well.....rather pornographic. Picture a long, thick fleshy stem growing out of a light brown, scaly bulb about the size of a ... fist. At the end of this stem is a large swelling flower bud. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Willie grew on a table next to one of our dining room windows, and provided inspiration for countless hours of juvenile entertainment around the dinner table. I haven't been able to look at an Amaryllis with a straight face since.

Fast forward about 25 years to when I first met Kylee Baumle, a fellow gardener who blogs over at Our Little Acre. Kylee and I bonded immediately over our love for gardening, photography and writing and I now consider her one of my closest friends. The reason I'm bringing her into this sordid story, is because Kylee is a bit of an Amaryllis aficionado. In her own words, she's loved Amaryllis as long as she's been gardening. I can't remember exactly how many bulbs she grows every year, but it's many more than a handful. I've been tempted to make the four-hour trip just to see them in bloom.

Kylee's enthusiasm for the Hippaestrum genus and her continual entreaties that "You have to try Amaryllis!" are the reason I took a second look at those castoff early bloomers in the discount bin. Aside from an agreement to disagree on the subject of chartreuse plants, I tend to listen to Kylee when she gets excited about plants.

For the past three weeks, I've watched 'Minerva' continue to grow on the window seat in our bedroom. And, yes, there have been several cases of stifled giggles. But this morning, after viewing 'Minerva' blooming in the filtered winter sunlight, I'm a convert. My giggles turned to pure admiration.

You have to try Amaryllis!

5 comments:

  1. I have not been able to get on the amaryllis train, but I will think about picking one up and giving it a try!! Beautiful pics!

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  2. Oh my goodness! It just goes to show that you never know when you'll influence someone for good. And GOOD FOR YOU!! 'Minerva' is lovely and is one that I don't have. I'm afraid that though you and your family are welcome here any day of the week, that you wouldn't find a huge amount of amaryllis blooming at any one time. That's because I plan it that way.

    The most I've ever had in bloom at the same time is four, maybe five. I like to space them out over the entire winter. That's how they help me through the gray days until spring puts winter solidly behind us.

    I'm SO glad you decided to try them. My girls were grossed out when I brought to their attention what a budding amaryllis stalk resembled, but there's no denying it.

    Now...I dare you to get a 'Benfica' or 'Black Pearl'. If you're like me (and we're alike in so many ways, I think you will be), you won't be able to stop staring at it when it erupts into bloom. That deep, dark color is just unreal. I remember when I grew my first one of those. I told Romie, "I can't stop looking at it. I just love it." His response? "I'm glad it makes you so happy." :-)

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  3. I'll definitely add those two to my wish list. I can just imagine Romie saying that. :)

    Will definitely be asking you advice what to do with these once they stop blooming.

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  4. Oh. My. I don't think I'll ever look at an amaryllis the same way after your post! ;-) How hilarious! Hopefully, our youngest is still a little too naive to pick up on the imagery...but wow, in a few years, I suppose we'll be hearing lots of giggles, too. (It's a gorgeous variety with lovely photography!) Enjoy!

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  5. God bless you Chris Tidrick for the photograph and name of our mystery Amaryllis! Plus, I just learned Kylee is like the "Amaryllis aficionado" and the kind Lord knows I could use a bit of information to help us from losing 15 yrs of stunning Minveras.

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