Monday, November 8, 2010


What the devil are we talking about? Two varieties of a flower named after a rather elusive yet tragic damsel from one of Virgil's pastoral poems. Yes, that Virgil...the one who penned "The Aeneid" , the classic history of Rome.
I have always been rather fond of Amaryllis, who kept her virtues and her beauty hidden below ground in a cave, and yet so brilliant and alluring was her beauty that even the obscurity of the depths of darkness found within the cave could not cloak her intense beauty. The name is derived from the Latin word for "sparkling" which is amarysso.
And yes, she has many admirers, although as usual she was stricken by a love she could not have, unless she brought to him a flower that was hitherto unknown to the world. Plunging a knife into her bosom, a flower appeared on her chest; a metaphor that appears in "Green, how I want you Green" by Llorca. (See post in September). Aah, those tragic poems!
Linnaeus, famous taxonomist who developed the system of naming plants that is used to this day elected to give this name to the class of flowers that we now call Hippeastrum, based largely on the fact that these fabulous flowers on erect, stiff stems appear suddenly from under the ground, where the bulbs have remained dormant for many months. The inflorescence is impressive and the variety of colors is beguiling.
Featured in the pictures are:
"Liberty" - a deep, rich red, a Burgundy really, with large blooms and a slightly glossy petal surface. It is in season now.
"Naranja" - a fully saturated orange flower, brilliant on the showy petals, and a matte coral/peach on the backside. Look for both of them now, at the peak of their season in Chile, as opposed to the forced blooms starting to arrive from Holland. While this is a new crop for Chile, the outlook appears to be very good, as the flowers are large, long-lasting and have stout stems. In vase tests the flowers have lasted very well.

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