Surprise Lilies

Discovering the Treasure

When I moved into the “Homeville Homestead,”  The yard was a pretty big mess.  In many ways, it’s still a mess, but I’ve definitely made improvements.   I ended up cutting down the crab apple tree that I had been very excited about — it turns out that it was rotting from the inside out with a fungus.  As I pulled weeds out of the beds surrounding trees and made gardening beds along the front of the house, I started to see some real improvement in the look of the yard.  However, I still had two problems: an empty concrete flower bed underneath the living room window, and this stuff that looked like monkey grass all over my yard.  (Monkey grass and Bradford pear trees pretty much top my list of useless things that I could plant in my yard.)

I started trying to dig the “monkey grass” out of my yard, only to discover that it had bulbs.   I mentioned it one day when I was talking to my mom, and she said that I may have something called Surprise Lilies.  They look like tall ornamental grass during most of the year, but then the grass leaves die off, and they put up beautiful flowers in the fall.

Suddenly, I had a solution to my other problem: an empty flower bed.  Since I pretty much refuse to put money into any plant that won’t produce food, moving the Surprise Lilies seemed like the perfect idea.

Moving the bulbs

I moved the bulbs early the next spring.  They seemed to like their new home, and all seemed well.  Then, they died back for the fall, and nothing happened.  I began to worry.

“Killing” the bulbs

I love my fiance to pieces, but he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s not perfect.  (And, that gardening is not one of his strongest talents.) He loves to help me in the yard and things, though, so we often work together — when I’m not just letting him help me whittle things down off my todo list.

Not wanting to give up on my lilies, I asked my fiance to “put some of the leaves” that we were raking on the top of the flower bed to shield the bulbs (which were now slightly exposed because the soil had settled) from the cold of the winter.  I went back to raking and other yard work and didn’t think anything more about it.

When I checked on my fiance, he had piled most of the leaves from the front yard into the the little concrete area!  We moved some of them to the back yard (I compost) and left some to cover the bulbs.  It was still a pretty heavy covering.

In the spring, very little happened in my flower bed.  I’m sure some of my friends who visited wondered why I had planted so many other places in the yard and left that spot bare.  When the leaves died off super early, I thought that all of my bulbs had rotted and that the whole thing was over.  I started tossing around other ideas for the spot, but couldn’t come up with any.


About three weeks ago, the flower bed suddenly came to life.  I had shoots making their way up through the leaves!  Here’s what the garden looks like now:

I’m hoping that, over the next couple of years, the bulbs will multiply, and that the bed will eventually be filled with Surprise Lily flowers every fall!