Waiting For The Naked Ladies

By Anita Garner

Naked Ladies show up in the oddest places in Northern California in July and all through August.  Clumps of them, pink and fragrant, with up to a dozen beautiful blooms on each leafless stem. They’re  energetic.  They’re sturdy.   They’re random.

They scatter all over the countryside in Napa and Sonoma and Marin in places where no one would have thought to plant them.  All of a sudden comes this magic in a distinct shade of pink, from a bed of weeds, a crack in a sidewalk, along fences, lining a country road, and in no particular formation. You have to smile at their tenacity and because critters don’t like them, they stay around a while.

There’s something mysterious and charming about them so I had to look it up.  Read on if you want to know too.

They’re in the lily family, starting life as a bulb. During the winter a plant with leaves appears, looking like any other plant.  Then the leaves die away and you can easily forget about them. A few months later during hot weather, up pops a bare stalk then another and another.

I wanted to know how they get scattered all over the place. Turns out they drop seeds which insure surprise sightings in years to come.  Once a bulb’s planted, you’ll never know how many will show up next season.

People say Naked Ladies are practically indestructible, but I assumed I’d lost the ones in my yard in Mill Valley a few years ago. A tree had to be removed right next to where the Naked Ladies bloomed the summer before.  Along with the tree and its roots, everything went.  Only dirt was left.

Then came the summer and overnight one bare stalk started pushing up, then another, beautiful and fragrant and naked.




4 thoughts on “Waiting For The Naked Ladies”

  1. These are beautiful. I looked them up and learned they are also known as Belladonna and should grow well here in North Texas. I think we may want to add them to our backyard gardens for next summer!

  2. They bloom like crazy here too, but the color is not as rich. California knows how to grow stuff ?

  3. Ro – you’re right – California has lots of personality about the things it grows – and I’m grateful for all of it. speaking of which – Northern California misses you.

  4. I hope you do it, and take pictures of your first winter plants, then your naked stalks when they poke up in summer. Would love to see them.

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