Just Add Water, and the Earth Stirs

Rain lily bud

As bright Coreopsis and Firewheel began appearing alongside our streets and highways, my thoughts turned to the Broadway cemeteries in Galveston: always a favorite spot for spring flower photography. Favorable conditions sometimes lead to masses of flowers, as they did in 2020.

This year, generally dry conditions and my own late arrival meant the flowers were more scattered, with many Gaillardia already going to seed and the Coreopsis less dramatically dense than in the past. Still, to paraphrase the old saying, if one bloom closes, another opens, and the opening of a significant number of rain lilies (Cooperia drummondii) was an unexpected treat.

Rain lily flowers gradually open in the evening several days after rainfall and remain open a day or two; areas around Galveston received between one and two inches of rain on Tuesday, April 26, so the presence of blooms three days later wasn’t unusual. I found far more buds than flowers, so another visit clearly is in order.  

Finding a pleasing background in an urban cemetery can be challenging. Sometimes, as above, a sidewalk serves the purpose; in the photo below, a brick wall surrounding one of the cemeteries provided contrast for the white flowers.

Being able to position a bloom in front of fading Coreopsis and Gaillardia provided some color, but more than native wildflowers can serve that purpose.

Here, a bouquet of artificial flowers left at a grave frames a rain lily flower and bud: an unexpected but pleasing combination.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Those Unpredictable Rain Lilies

Eleven lilies and a bud

 

On July 4th, I found the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge nearly deserted; only a few birds and even fewer humans stirred in the heat. In some areas, a different sort of emptiness prevailed. Since my last visit, mowers had been at work, cutting wide roadside swaths, as well as entire fields, neatly to the ground.

Since the refuge is managed for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, it makes sense that wildflowers might not be the first consideration, but it was disappointing to find stubble where I’d hoped to find flowers.

On the other hand, an unexpected treat awaited me. Rain lilies (Zephyranthes chlorosolen) decorated the road leading into the refuge, and had spread throughout the refuge itself. Despite our consistent rains, it hadn’t occurred to me that they might be appearing, but hundreds already had bloomed, rising from bulbs undisturbed by the mowing.

Despite being so numerous, the flowers were too scattered for their fragrance to be detectable. Still, the occasional clumps of fresh, white flowers were delightful, and even a single rain lily pleases the eye.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Nature, Singing

Tucked between red-clad Santas and decorated evergreens, this very late rain lily (Zephyranthes candida) bloomed in the San Bernard refuge butterfly garden long after many of its kind had called it a season.

Graced with the colors of Christmas and petals suggesting the open receptiveness of a child, it recalls the words of the beloved carol:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing…

Remarkably, we don’t sing, “Joy to human beings, joy to those who walk upright and drive cars and open too many credit card accounts and are nasty to their neighbors.” We don’t sing “Joy to the church-goers, the faithful, the few.”

The joy we sing is meant for the whole world: for stars and dirt; mountains and seas; trees, rocks, valleys and hills, and every creature inhabiting them. At Christmas, heaven and nature sing out this truth: the gifts of the season are meant for the world as a whole. We who inhabit that world, who trace a path upon its soil and gaze upon its stars are called to sing its praises, too, and join in its celebration.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Sleeping In On a Weekend

Aging rain lilies occasionally bend toward the ground as their blooms fade and their stems weaken. Even so, the arc of the lily at the edge of the refuge pond seemed unusual, and a closer look revealed the reason: a tiny moth had chosen to bed down inside the flower.

As I scooted around, searching for the least obstructed view, the moth never moved. An hour later, it still was deep in its dreams: a real Sunday morning lazy-bones.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Once More, With Fragrance

An unusual evening rain lily

Last month, finding my first rain lilies of the year — a group of five flowers that included this little gem — satisfied me. They were there; they were lovely; and that was enough.

It never occurred to me that I’d find more rain lilies, and I certainly didn’t expect them to appear almost literally on my doorstep, adding their beauty to a vacant lot across the street.

As I arrived home for lunch yesterday, at least a hundred flowers greeted me. Too widely spaced for a satisfying group portrait, they were numerous enough for their fragrance to spread across the field, lingering in the still air.

Walking among the flowers, I noticed one in particular. Instead of the usual three white petals and three almost identical sepals, the flower was sporting nine. Was it six sepals and three petals? Or three sepals with an extra three petals thrown in as lagniappe? I’m still not sure, but the arrangement was as lovely as it was unusual.

 

Comments always are welcome.
Evening rain-lily (Cooperia drummondii, or Zephyranthes chlorosolen) has been moved from the Lily family (Liliaceae) to the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). The specific epithet ‘drummondii’ recognizes Thomas Drummond, an 18th century Scottish naturalist.