This week the honey lilies (Nectaroscordum siculum) have broken out of their pale papery calyces en masse and are making a wonderful display in our shady front garden.
Before this happened the florets were tightly wrapped in upright bundles and looked rather like candles on an altar.
But now the bell-shaped flowers are free to hang down and spread out as soft green and pink-blushed umbrellas.
And if you look up into the flowers the petals almost look hand-painted with cerise and maroon brush strokes.
With the sun behind them (yes, I am on my knees here), they shine like stained glass windows or murano glass jewellery.
They are even more delectable with rain drops clinging to the petals:
The bumblebees adore them, but I more or less gave up trying to photograph their swift visits to the beautiful bells because I couldn’t get the camera to focus on the bees quickly enough. Here are a couple of slightly out of focus attempts:
Interestingly the bees seem to revisit flowers very quickly, so maybe the nectar replenishes immediately?
Do they have a down side? Well, they are alliums and one of their common names is Sicilian honey garlic, so yes they smell very oniony when brushed or crushed, but mostly you won’t smell this (it is nothing like the strong, unsolicited stink of Imperial lilies for instance!).
If they are happy, they will seed around quite freely, but I don’t mind this. They like damp, shady, woody environments. However, my garden is shady and dry, so there is a lot of leeway in the moisture levels.
Once the flowers are finished the seed cases revert to upright candelabras, which are equally decorative. Right now though I am enjoying the busy, beautiful umbrellas!