St. Joseph lilies a reminder of mother

It’s fitting that St. Joseph lilies are usually in bloom on Mother’s Day. They’re the flowers that most remind me of my mother.

When I was little, a clump of them grew beside our house, next to a bridal wreath spirea. The blazing red trumpets with white stripes were the most spectacular things in our yard and I’ve often wondered who planted them there, because my mother wasn’t a gardener. She was a gatherer, who picked and put up countless freezer bags and jars of peas, corn, beans, cucumbers, pears, and anything else she could get her hands on.

After I got the gardening bug, fell in love with Southern heirloom plants and decided I wanted every plant from my mother’s and grandmothers’ yards in mine, I remembered the St. Joseph lilies and went looking for them.

They had vanished.

Actually, been swallowed is more accurate, as I found out when I lifted the bridal wreath branches and looked underneath. A few sickly, yellow leaves were flopped on the ground, desperate for a little sunshine.

My mother had an old, rusty shovel and my husband volunteered to crawl under the bush and dig some of the bulbs out. But they were wedged tight in the bridal wreath roots and he really had to go after them. By the time he proudly handed me five or six bulbs, they looked like they had been in a knife fight. I was heartbroken, sure they would never live and that I should probably just toss them over the fence and forget about them. But he had exerted a LOT of effort trying to make me happy — so I acted like I was. (Don’t laugh. You’d done the same thing.)

When we got home, I put them in a paper bag and left them there for a couple of weeks so the wounds could dry out and heal over a bit. Then I put them in the ground, sure that was the last I’d ever see of them.

They bloomed the next year.

Now, I have four huge clumps of them and they’ve been gorgeous for the last few weeks.

So every year, I celebreate Mother’s Day by enjoying the lilies that came from unknown hands to my mother and from my husband’s to mine.



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