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Secret Garden

Return of the Naked Ladies


By Anita Garner



Have you ever moved into a home previously inhabited by an avid gardener and watched as the seasons reveal what's already been planted and lovingly tended?  I've lived many places and a couple of times before I've had the pleasure of watching unexpected gifts reveal themselves in gardens planned by someone else.


August in certain Northern California counties  is prime time for spotting Naked Ladies.  Driving through Napa and Sonoma and Marin Counties, rows of them line the road. Clumps pop up in cracks in concrete where it would seem nothing could grow. Now my family's in Sacramento County where I hadn't seen any so far this season.


I just returned from traveling, let the pups out, looked way back toward the fence and thought my eyes were playing tricks.  Naked Ladies. Right here in our own back yard.


This home and these gardens were brought to life by a dear friend over several decades.  We oohed and aahed over her beloved rose garden, the trees of all sizes that shade this place, the strawberry and tomato plants that march along the side fence. When Pam moved here decades ago, she was greeted by enormous asparagus ferns that still stand tall and carry their age well.


I don't remember seeing these Naked Ladies here during her lifetime, but here they are, two big clumps of them, obscured earlier by that prolific rose garden.  One is tucked up against the back fence, nearly hidden by ferns, the other just revealed behind a row of roses now finished with their blooming cycle.


I'm not so much a gardener as a garden appreciator. I've loved these Ladies for years and the only thing I knew about them is that they take their name from their stems with no leaves. Here's more.


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. 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.


This has now exhausted most of the gardening words I know. More updates from the garden as nature provides.



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