In early August, the Amaryllis begin to appear. These are bulbs, and they produce foliage in December (without flowers), which dries up in May or June. In late summer, stalks emerge quickly, within 2-3 days, from bare, dry beds and set clusters of these wonderfully fragrant pink flowers. Like most popular plants used so frequently in southern California that they seem to belong here, Amaryllis are from somewhere else. They are native to South Africa, and do well in the climate here, which is very similar.
They are often called "naked ladies", due to that fact that they flower without foliage. Another common name is "pink ladies". The bulbs commonly called "Amaryllis", that are sold around the holidays as forced blooms in little pots and jars are really Hippeastrum; the misnomer confuses some people a bit when encountering true Amaryllis.
Amaryllis were once pretty popular in Orange County; they are most commonly found in older neighborhoods, and they are one of my favorite heirloom flowers around here. I do not notice them often in newer neighborhoods, probably because fewer people spend much time gardening now, and tend to prefer more structural landscape plantings of repeat-blooming perennials, or shop for "instant color" at Home Depot every few weeks. Amaryllis, like daffodils, narcissus, gladiolas, etc. are a more patient pursuit, which pays off only during a brief three or four weeks each year.
When we moved in, they were already scattered around the various unkempt and overgrown flower beds throughout the yard. We have gathered them into a few areas and encourage them to continue growing and multiplying.
|This is the first cluster of this year.|