Antebellum Flowers

Crinum Lily
Oh, the very thought
of this dear old southern flower
takes my breath.
Related to the amaryllis, the crinum is what the old southerners refer to as the Easter Lily, and it is the lily in our historic cemeteries. Crinum lilies are most often found at old home sites and in historic neighborhoods.
Old Southern Heritage
Crinum lilies often grow wild along rivers and swamps and certainly make up the landscape of memories southerners have of a childhood spent roaming the lush countryside.  This is the lily of southern childhood.
The crinum lily is a link to our old southern ways. The sight of the tender crinum in a lone field often signifies the place where an old home once stood, a lovely wood church rose high and narrow, or a loved one was long ago buried.  It is a pretty marker all along our southern landscape.
Old Southern Way
This dear sweet lily is a testament to the unwritten histories of our southern heritage. Keeping crinum lilies is so old-fashioned, too few southerners even know of them or of their history in the lives of southern women. 
This old lily has been lovingly passed from one dear southern lady to the next for hundreds of years, and mamas would come calling on their newly married daughters with crinums in hand.  Often, these graceful lilies were the first things planted alongside the old bridal roses.
Old Southern Tradition
It is the tradition in my family to take the long, narrow crinum fronds and weave them into pretty runners for our Easter tables. The southern ladies and their little girls would sit together on quiet afternoons and weave the lovely green fronds together.
The garden bounty of fresh vegetables nestled together
in old eggshell china has been placed upon lily frond mats for centuries.
Choosing Crinums
Several varieties are native to the Deep South. The native ones are high summer and fall bloomers, so now is the time to plant them.
Crinums offer a lovely show among the waning late-summer flowers.
The milk-and-wine lily is a pretty peppermint striped and is lovely in floral arrangements. 
The Ellen Bosanquet is a deep red-burgundy.
Crinum powellii is a traditional, graceful white.
Crinum americanum is a slender-petaled white flower.
I urge anyone wishing to keep our old southern traditions alive to consider growing crinums.
Old Southern Garden
Old Fashioned Crinums
Plant crinum in a sunny spot from late-spring to late-summer. Till in a rich compost to prepare a nice growing medium for your crinums. Plant bulbs 10 inches deep. Do not mulch once planted.
Crinums are perfect near garden ponds, but I have found that they will thrive in heavy clay, too.
Crinum may experience foliage frost kill, just trim back dead foliage and cover bulbs with pine straw for the winter.
Do not despair if you do not see blooms in the first few years. Once ready, they are prolific bloomers, and you will enjoy decades of beautiful, vanilla-lemon scented old southern lilies.