It happens when we least expect them: Mystery lilies start blooming in and brightening up our Nature Education Center gardens in August when other flower species are waning. Mary Lou planted mystery lilies in our gardens a while ago and we tend to forget about them until they bloom because of their unusual growing habit. They are always a pleasant surprise when they do bloom.
Mystery lilies have several common names including surprise lilies, magic lilies, resurrection lilies — due to their habit of blooming long after the foliage dies — naked ladies (flowers appear with no foliage) and flamingo flower because the pink blooms atop tall, leafless stems resemble flamingoes on their long legs. So even deciding what to call them is a mystery! Interestingly, they are not even a true lily, belonging to the amaryllis family. Native to Japan and China, they have been part of American gardens since about 1880.