Amaryllis season

Here I am, four years old and very happy to be sitting in my yard in Abilene, Texas in front of my favorite childhood flower (the red ones on the left). My mother called them daylilies. It must have been around early May so I always associated this once-blooming flower with the coming of summer.

Judging by my haircut, it looks like the above picture was taken in the 1950s but in fact it was 1969, two years after the Summer of Love. My father insisted on the burr but thankfully my brothers and I were allowed to grow our hair out by the time we went to school.

I know now that these daylilies are in fact a relatively rare hardy amaryllis or St. Joseph lilies (Hippeastrum x johnsonii). I loved these bright red amaryllis especially for their spicy scent. Since we are more familiar with the scentless indoor hybrids, many people are surprised that these heirloom southern bulbs have such a strong wonderful fragrance. I later dug up a few and grew a pot full for several years in my New York apartment before they finally petered out. These zone 7-10 plants are available from Plants Delights Nursery here.

Descendants of those very same Abilene Hippeastrum x johnsonii bulbs growing in my New York apartment in 1995

From the San Marco Growers website:
Thought to be the first hybrid amaryllis ever produced, it was the result of a cross, perhaps unintentional between
Hippeastrum reginae and Hippeastrum vittata performed between 1799 and 1810 by Arthur Johnson, a watch maker from Prescot in Lancashire County, England. Mr. Arthur fortunately shared his plants with the Liverpool Botanic Garden prior to his greenhouse, and its contents, being accidentally destroyed. Hippeastrum x johnsonii made its way into cultivation in the United States by the mid 1800's and was in Santa Barbara when Dr. Francesco Franceschi performed his 1895 survey of plants being grown in Santa Barbara. While this plant is rarely offered in nurseries it can be found in older gardens and cemeteries, particularly in southern California, the southeast and in Texas.

These are the more ordinary amaryllis that are blooming in my apartment right now. From left: 'Misty', 'Red Pearl', and 'Charisma'. All these indoor hybrid amaryllis (more correctly Hippeastrum) are from Van Engelen. Note: the 'Charisma' is three feet tall in its tiny pot. What could be better to get you through the winter than this?

From left: 'Charisma' (detail), a group of 'Red Pearl', 'Misty', 'Amputo', and the fragrant 'Amputo' (detail)

'Charisma' looks like someone blew red tempera powder on white flowers.

4 comments:

The Fern and Mossery said...

Beautiful plants and adorable photo. Thanks for sharing!

Carson said...

I want to get that plant. A fragrant amaryllis? Thank you!

Stephen Orr said...

Thanks Fern & Mossery. I'm glad you liked them!

wsxwhx661 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.