Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crinum Lilies

Crinum Scabrum bud
A garden staple of mine for the last few years has been the crinum lily.  It has been crinum time in the garden lately.  Blooms have been popping up in the corner garden.
 The crinum ("cry-num" I only just realized had been mispronouncing this for years) is related to the amaryllis, but is rarely seen in your typical garden center.  It is the quintessential pass along plant.  You almost have to be chummy with an old gardener in order to get some.  I received mine from a friend of my mother who cleans them out of her beds from time to time. The huge bulbs sat in the corner for months until they started to sprout leaves.  I planted them not having a clue what they might be and soon they bloomed.  Since then I've been pretty enamored with the crinum lily. 
The Crinum Scabrum bloom always reminds me of peppermint.
Crinums in the Corner Garden
The crinum scabrum comes first, their red striped white blooms opening up around mid to late May.  I got these from a master gardening sale with only "White crinum with red stripe" on the tag.  I had to figure out the rest on my own.  The next to bloom are the original crinums I got from my Mother's friend:
I still don't know the type, but they seem to be very common in older neighborhoods around town.  They do very well with our sometimes drought/sometimes flood weather, and have been known to outline long gone homesteads, far out lasting the homes they were meant to adorn.  
Crinums by the shed this morning.
A cluster of crinum blooms.
Most crinum originated in Africa and it is thought that many were brought over during the slave trade.  While I don't know if this is true, I kind of like the humble origin story of families passing these plants down from generation to generation in the South. 
The crinum lily seems to be the Miracle Whip of the plant world:  you either love them or hate them.  While not in bloom the plants can be ungainly and their huge bulbs can be difficult to transplant.  But I like them, and I hope this post gave you something to like as well.  If you are interested in learning more, here are some sites I recommend:

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