A backyard surprise

A backyard surprise

We got back last Sunday night from a short trip to St. Louis, where we saw some sights, hung with family, went to a wedding and lugged back an old desk for my son's room.

I wasn't thrilled about the end of my two-week vacation, and as we pulled in the driveway I was distracted by thoughts of 1) unpacking the car,  2) lining up babysitters for the week, as we had no camps scheduled for the kids, and 3) all the stories I hadn't gotten to before I left for vacation.

Then I noticed something different about the yard. A dozen tall pink blooms stood in a corner of the garden that had been empty when we left.

These beautiful pink lilies are known as surprise lilies, or magic lilies, because they pop up so unexpectedly. (They're also called "naked ladies," for their long stems with no leaves.) The foliage appears in late winter or early spring, then they disappear until the trumpet flowers bloom in August.

I'd seen some in previous years here and there, but never this many. Apparently conditions were just right, as they like "moist springs with prolonged periods of summer drought," according to this gardening website.

It was a moment of calm in my anxiety-riddled evening. The website described them as "ungainly," but every morning and evening when I see them they make me smile.

Has anyone else noticed a bumper crop of surprise lilies this year?


Julie Wurth writes and blogs about family issues, social services and the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Her column appears in the paper every other Tuesday. Leave a comment below,  contact Julie at 351-5226 or jwurth@news-gazette.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jawurth.


Top: The surprise lilies in our back yard. Julie Wurth

Above: The tall, leafless stems on surprise lilies earned them the nickname "naked ladies." Photo from this website


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