Zephyranthes, fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, rain lily
Zephyranthes, fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, rain lily
Zephyranthes, fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, rain lily
Zephyranthes, fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, rain lily

If you don't like flowers you should quit reading now. This site was designed for Plant Nuts by a Plant Nut and it will make you a Plant Nut too. You will end up planning your schedule around the needs of the plants in your life, and spending hours online looking at plants you don't have yet. You will soon discover that you have no more room in your garden for new plants but you will find more plants that you need anyway. You could end up with a truckload of potting soil in your driveway. It isn't such a bad way to live.

My girlfriend says that I can put any stick in the ground and it will sprout. My yard is full of plants that started that way. I had intended to collect fig trees but now my back yard is a dense fig tree forest and I have no room to put the other varieties I have into the ground. My fig trees have taken over most of what was my nursery. I realized that I needed to collect something smaller just as some of my Zephyranthes began to bloom. It was time to take a more serious look at what was available. What I found was amazing.

Mention flower bulbs and most people will think of daffodils and tulips. Any gardener can name many more flowers that grow from bulbs, but they may never have the opportunity to grow a Rain Lily. These "minor" bulbs just aren't that well known. They are not one of the more common "pass along" plants. Few nurseries regularly offer them for sale. Yet Rain Lilies do something that very few other bulbs will. Most bulbs bloom only once each year, and for most of the year there is no sign of them above ground. Rain Lilies, as the name implies, are likely to bloom after any rainstorm all summer long, and their leaves can remain attractive all year. They belong in every garden.

I first encountered a Rain Lily about 1995 while living in South Florida. This was a variety with no tolerance for freezing temperatures. It was several years before I had an opportunity to grow some cold hardy Zephyranthes. Those first few bulbs weren't all that impressive with their lonely blooms, but they quickly multiplied and I saw that they had a lot of potential for mass plantings. A few years later I decided to buy some more colorful varieties. That was when I learned that although Zephyranthes are native to the Americas, spectacular varieties were being bred in Indonesia, of all places. I bought one of those and it has done well.

This time (It is now 2014) my search for new Zephyranthes began in Indonesia. I thought I might find a local nursery but I failed. I expanded my search to Singapore and eventually found a link to a Thai Web forum. It was clear that varieties of Zephyranthes were being offered for sale there that were not available in the United States at any price. I was unable to register for that forum. A few days later I discovered a brand new Facebook group named กลุ่มคนชื่นชอบบัวดิน (Rain lilies). I joined, and quickly realized that in Thailand, Zephyranthes receive the attention that they deserve. There may be one hundred or more varieties available in Thailand that can not be found in the United States. I knew that I needed the help of my fellow plant enthusiasts on the other side of the world in order to build my Zephyranthese collection, but how could I overcome a significant language barrier?

What could I contribute?

A website. I could create a website that gives Zephyranthes and other Rain Lilies the exposure they deserve. And that is what I've tried to do. I've created websites before, by customizing templates, but this time I knew that in order to build the website that I wanted, I needed to throw the templates away and code the site myself from the ground up. There are resources out there to help web developers, but when, for example, a JavaScript lightbox is "well documented" the assumption is that you understand JavaScript. I was already comfortable with HTML, so moving to HTML5 was no big deal, and I've been hacking CSS for years, so learning the proper, or at least better, rules for its usage was easy, but before I started this project JavaScript and PHP made as much sense to me as Martian. I quickly aquired some understanding of each. I'm no expert, but I was able to write the code that pulled this website together.

All this for the love of plants! But it has been a fun adventure.

© 2017 Keith Hardwick
Sunday, December 17, 2017