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Red Spider Lillies

Bulbs are one of the great gifts of nature – a beautiful flower packaged in a dry, unassuming package that can protect it for several months. This ability has made it possible for them to travel far from their native lands to grace our gardens. It also makes them some of the easiest flowers to grow.
Bulb season at Oakland starts in the fall when the Red Spider Lilies (Lycoris radiata) send up 12” tall stems topped with lovely red flowers.

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These amazing flowers spring into growth, breaking ground and into bloom in just a few days. They are native to China and were brought to America in 1854 by Captain William Rogers, captain of one of the U. S. Navy’s ships that opened the ports of Japan to trade. He obtained three bulbs and brought them back to his home in North Carolina.

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They took several years to settle in, but multiplied freely once established and were spread throughout the south. Today they often tell tales of long lost home sites when they appear in neat rows outlining a front walk to nowhere.
Spider lilies are easy to establish in gardens if you are patient. They resent being dried out and often sulk and refuse to bloom for a couple of years after planting. The best way to obtain them is “green” – with the fresh foliage still attached.

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Spider lilies dug then will often show no signs of being moved if the roots are kept damp and they are replanted promptly. If you don’t have a friend who is willing to share, or a local nursery that grows them in pots, the next best option is to purchase them from a reputable bulb dealer who will ship them as quickly as possible after digging. Sadly the bulbs you find in cardboard boxes in stores have not been so carefully tended and success with these is not assured.

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We may have a few pots of these available at our plant sale on Oct.5 and 6 but they will be in very limited supply and you need to plan to come early. Another source for these and all others types of bulbs is Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, a family run business in Gloucester, VA. Brent is a third generation bulb grower and they are known for the quality of their bulbs. They have every type bulb imaginable, including Lycoris, which are grown and harvested each spring from their own land.
Brent and Becky’s have been great friends to Oakland’s gardens, having donated thousands of bulbs over the years. They have also created a program called Bloomin’ Bucks that returns a portion of their sales to nonprofit organizations.  The Historic Oakland Foundation is one of the participating organizations and you help our gardens grow each time you shop. You can order whatever you want, in whatever quantity you want…books, bulbs, tools, supplements, gift certificates…ANYTHING…and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs will donate 25% of your purchase to Oakland. Just go to the Bloomin’ Bucks site (www.bloominbucks.com), select Historic Oakland Cemetery from the list of participating groups, and shop. It won’t cost you any extra but you must go to Bloomin’ Bucks first. You can also call them to place an order but you must remember to tell them you want Oakland to get credit for the order.

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