The white peonies are not the only things I was able to get from my grandmother’s flower beds right before her house was sold. She also had daffodils, some trace of which must have been still visible when we took the peonies. When we dug up a few of her daffodils, a pleasant surprise was unknowingly included. It actually took me over two years to realize what had happened when we transplanted the bulbs. Naked ladies (aka amaryllis belladonna) are so called because the foliage is only out for a few weeks in the spring, the same time as daffodils. Then, some 4 months later, long past the demise of the reedy thin, daffodil-like leaves, the flower stem suddenly bursts out of the ground and in the space of only a few days, blooms with a proliferation of flowers from a main stalk. The stress of a move or replanting will often cause them to skip a blooming cycle even though the foliage has appeared. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between the leaves of the ladies and the daffodils unless you are looking for it and I most certainly didn’t notice them that first year. I thought that the lack of daffodil blooms was just due to the move and hoped for better the next year. What a wonderful surprise I had the following summer when in August the bare stalks erupted from the earth and flowered profusely.
As you might have guessed, my naked ladies have just started to bloom. With the die back of many of my black-eyed susans and cone flowers, I decided to cut a single stalk of flowers and a few branches from the Russian sage. The sage has lovely small blue flowers coming off of each branch and I thought the combination of the delicate pink ladies and the blue sage might make a lovely arrangement.I painted the ladies first and then the sage. After two painting sessions, I could not get the pink flowers to separate themselves visually. I let it rest for a day and decided the only way to salvage the painting would be to delineate with the ink. I have been very good so far about not resorting to the ink when I get frustrated, but I kind of gave up with this one. I did not want to over saturate the soft pink color of the flowers and felt that a little bit of ink accents would help the painting as a whole. I also put it in a mauve mat to see what it did to the color.
These flowers were one of Grandma’s favorites and she certainly called them the naked ladies with some risqué glee. For the longest time, I never knew they had any other name. As with the peonies, I have half a dozen groupings now that I am sharing with family. I know Grandma would be pleased.
This week I picked a few small apples from an old tree up on the hill top and bought a green pepper. After I try painting them I think I’ll be refreshed enough to go back to the architectural work.