"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Amaryllis, Mostly Magenta (1 of 2)

From “Summer-Flowering Bulbs” in A Garden of One’s Own by Elizabeth Lawrence:

“Instead of agonizing over perennials that will never be at their best in our climate, we should use plant materials adapted to our hot, dry summers. With this in mind I have been experimenting for several years with summer-flowering bulbs. The amaryllis family alone is an almost inexhaustible source for Southern gardens….

“The choice member of this family is the
Amaryllis belladonna (July and August) with its six or eight lavender-pink flowers in an umbel on a two-foot stem. It is perfectly hardy, and has bloomed for me in the poorest soil in both sun and shade….

“The crinums are the showiest of the amaryllis family.”

From Bulbs and Tuberous-Rooted Plants: Their History, Description, Methods of Propagation and Complete Directions for their Successful Culture in the Garden, Dwelling and Greenhouse (1893) by C. L. Allen:

“The name Amaryllis is supposed to have been taken from a famous shepherdess mentioned by Virgil, and distinguished for her beauty.”


Most of the flowers I’ve uploaded for this post (and the next one) I’ve always known by their common name, Swamp Lily (or Swamplily or Swamp-lily, depending on where you read about them). While it’s true that they are known by that name, it turns out — this may be devastating news! — that they’re not lilies. Shocking, I know, and not unlike something I wrote about previously — see Leopard Flower Variations — when I was equally surprised to learn that daylilies are not lilies either.

Swamp lilies of this kind are members of the plant genus Amaryllis, in the plant family Amaryllidaceae, and there’s a pretty good chance that the plants in these nine photos are the Amaryllis belladonna described in Elizabeth Lawrence’s quote at the top of this post. They may also be a variety of Crinum — another genus in Amaryllidaceae — but I couldn’t tell for sure from the photos, and when I went back to Oakland Cemetery’s gardens to get a closer look at the stem and leaf structures (based on the pointers in this video Crinum, Amaryllis, and Lilies: How to tell the Difference Between Them), the plants had, uh, gone on vacation. In any case, I now check Wikipedia’s List of plants known as lily page whenever I see “lily” in a plant’s name. The page probably should be called “List of plants you think are lilies but really aren’t” — and if you look there you’ll see two kinds of amaryllis listed, both commonly misnomered.

I took these photos the morning after a night full of thunderstorms, so most of the flowers were still weighed down with raindrops, as you can see from the pictures. I thought about trying to dry them off a little (though I hesitate to interfere with nature, you know), but then realized that the flowers hung more gracefully on their stems from the weight of water and — as a rare occurrence in the southeast — there was no pollen dust all over the petals and leaves because it had been washed away. Fresh and clean, they all glowed a little — in a range of magenta and purple colors (according to Lightroom) and some green, yellow, and orange among the leaves and the remains of desiccated flowers.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (3 of 3)

From Seeing Flowers by Teri Dunn Chace and Robert Llewellyn:

“Arguably the world’s most easily recognized and beloved flowers, lilies form a large, sprawling family of around 4000 species. It includes, first and foremost, true lilies, the glorious trumpet-shaped flowers of garden and florist and flower show….

“There are scads of lovely species to delight flower lovers, from the towering Chinese lily,
Lilium henryi, spangled all the way to the top with gold-orange flowers, to the more modest, waist high Canada lily, L. canadense, which sports a good show of black-speckled orange to red flowers, candelabra style. You may have seen the evocatively named Turk’s cap ones, which have recurved petals; these originate from L. martagon and have been widely hybridized. The speckles, dots, or lines on some of these flowers function as air-traffic control for pollinators, guiding them toward the pollen in the center.”


This is the third of three posts showing Turk’s Cap or Martagon lilies I photographed at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. The previous post is Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (2 of 3). If you would like to read more about these lilies and how I created the photos, see the first post: Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (1 of 3).

Thanks for taking a look!

Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (2 of 3)

From The Language of Flowers by Anne Pratt and Thomas Miller:

“The ancient poets told that the hyacinth received its name from Apollo, who unfortunately killed his friend, the youth Hyacinth, and then turned him into a flower, that he might ever bathe in morning dews, and drink the pure air of heaven. He is said to have imprinted the expression of sorrow in black streaks upon the leaves of the flower. The ancient festivals at Sparta, dedicated to Apollo, and termed Hyacinthus, were held in memory of this event, and were commemorated by two days of mirth and festivity and one of mourning….

“The flowers mentioned by classical writers have been the subjects of many discussions; and as no marks are found either on the flower or leaf of the plant termed in modern language hyacinth, several flowers have been mentioned by different authors as the hyacinth of the poets….

“It is now, however, generally believed… that the ancient hyacinth was that red species of lily now called the Martagon lily, or Turk’s-cap. Virgil describes the flower as of a bright-red colour; and it was said to be marked with the Greek exclamation of grief, AI, AI. The black marks of the Turk’s-cap may, by a little help of the imagination, be considered to bear this inscription.”


This is the second of three posts showing Turk’s Cap or Martagon lilies I photographed at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. If you would like to read more about these lilies — and how I created two sets of seven photos in the styles below — see the first post in the series: Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (1 of 3).

Thanks for taking a look!

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