Every year I forget about the surprise lilies, and every year up they pop and add a touch of unexpected grace to the jungle that is my garden by this point in the summer. Also known as naked ladies and spider lilies, they belong to the genus Lycoris; the most common version in our part of the country is Lycoris squamigera, which bears pink flowers.
They do have leaves: their strap-like foliage comes up in the spring, but it eventually withers and dies completely back, so that you forget that the plant was ever there.
Weeks later, usually around the beginning of August in southern Minnesota, the tall flower shoots emerge seemingly from nowhere. This year we even mowed the end of the bed where they are, so their leafless appearance is even more startling.
I took these photos on Saturday; all of the shoots seen above are now in full bloom. You can learn more about surprise lilies here.