Friday, August 3, 2007

August Surprises

August is the time when I begin to lose interest in fertlizing, weeding and watering in my garden, but there are still surprises to be found there. Yesterday my husband called me to the deck to see a strange creature, a walking stick. They are from the Phasmatodea order of insects, of which there are over 2,000 varieties worldwide. I think there are only about ten types in North America. We both got down on our knees with a magnifying glass to look at this critter. It appears to have only four legs, but we discovered that the little pincers in front are actually the other two legs, It was probably headed out to munch my roses, but I didn't bother the insect, who looks like a magically animated twig.

Naked lady. Ghost lily. Resurrection lily. Magic lily. Surprise lily. I can't remember who gave me my first bulb, but at a time when most of my other flowers have started to dry up these luminous pink flowers shoot out of the ground and boom seweetly under the trees. I understand they were imported from Japan and were popular in the 1800s. They are actually not a lily, but rather an amaryllis, Latin name Lycoris squamigera. In the spring they send up vigrous green strappy leaves that die away completely in the late spring and summer. But then in August, often after a rain, the stalks shoot out of the ground and are soon topped with pale pink blooms, tinged with lavender, and with a glowing yellow center. In the evening they have a sweet scent, not so strong a perfume as the Stargazer lilies, but still pleasant. I like them because they are hard to kill, and they like the dry shade under my maple. I mix them in with my hostas, because when they bloom they have no leaves, and the hostas provide some clothing for my naked ladies of August.

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