Even by Hebridean standards, November and December have been particularly wet, ranging from the grey, wet blanket dreich to torrential rain with a liberal sprinkling of squalls. The calvalcade of westerly depressions has been accompanied by some blustery winds, but so far we have been spared the storm force winds. So there has been no gardening, just looking out of the window, checking the weather forecast, sighing and putting on a full set of waterproofs to dig a few carrots.
So perhaps I should not have been surprised to see a Rain Lily flowering in the covered garden. More than enough to produce a smile.
Zephyranthes are native to the southern United States, Central and South America. Most species are associated with arid habitats where they flower after rain, hence the common name of rain or prairie lily.
Zephyranthes drummondii grows at low altitudes on the prairies of central Texas and in the dry foothills of the Sierra Occidental in Mexico. In the wild, the first flowers appear early in the spring, and the bloom sporadically until September. The flowers open in the evening, and are reputed to have aromatic sweet perfume. The thick, slightly ridged petals are conspicuous in the evening light, a characteristic common in flowers pollinated by moths.
This is all a little exotic for the Outer Hebrides, even though the bulbs are protected from the ravages of our climate in a cold greenhouse. They usually flower in the late summer, and whether or not they are pollinated by moths, produce fertile seed. The seed pods are left to mature on the plants and the seeds drop naturally into the gravelly soil. Although we now have a small clump of bulbs and seedlings, we usually only see one flower at a time. A flower in early December is extraordinary and it will be interesting to see if it sets seed.
The weather may be keeping me indoors, but in the greenhouses, there are often small surprises to raise a smile and remind me why I garden.