It seems that everywhere I look these days in Santa Cruz, I see naked ladies. It is only at this time of the year that they appear in such profusion! They are so long and lean, so pink and fresh and they are often seen in groups of ten or more in the most run-down rubby-dub conditions! The first time I saw them, we were driving down the street and my husband called out, "Look at all the naked ladies!" I'll tell you, my head about snapped off as I whipped it to and fro trying to locate the nudes. My husband had himself a good chuckle over my intense interest in naked ladies, and then he kindly pointed out the randomly appearing flowering stalks that were growing along the side of the road. Once my eyes were able to focus again (the violent back and forth motion had made my vision blurry), I could see the beautiful flowers.
Tall, greenish-reddish stalks barely supporting their trumpet-like bright pink blooms, they seem to appear out of nowhere. Against a fence, around a sign post, between the stumps of trees and in people's front yards, they spike through the ground one day and the next day they are fully- crowned, top-heavy cotton-candy pink blazes of color on thin sticks of reed.They are known as 'naked ladies' because they grow blooms on leafless stems. Most flowers (thinking of my sixty-two rose bushes now, and the dahlias the neighbor is growing) have leaves that hide and protect them.These gorgeous ladies grow virtually naked. Even after ten summers here they continue to amaze me as they thrive in the oddest places and without any gardening care at all. They are 'volunteers' here in Santa Cruz.. At some point in the past, these bulbs of the amaryllis family known by their taxonomic name of amaryllis belladonna, were planted in the city. They survived and thrived and spread. Small bulbs, they are easily transported in floods, erosion (slides) and in pocket gophers' mouths. They grow where they want. They survive the worst of conditions. They can be killed but it is hard to do. Strangely enough, you must use kindness to kill them: water them, fertilize them or move them to what you think is a better location. Poof. They die. The naked ladies exist only only on their terms and conditions. As a feminist, I like the sound of that!
Growing in a flower bed or........
in an untended lot. These ladies don't care!
Naked ladies are a thing of beauty from bud to bloom. Next week the blooms will drop and the stalks will develop leaves! Seems so backward somehow, blooms before foliage. Sort of like eating dessert first. Oh wait, I LIKE that idea!