Agapanthus Anxiety

Like the crocosmia, agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) was love at first sight. The plant is native to South Africa, so it is used to a temperate climate. In Atlanta, it usually blooms in June and July, producing beautiful puffs of pastel flowers atop an elegant long dark green stalk rising out of a mound of long, thin frilly leaves–a flower made to be wished for and wondered at.  

I planted three of them six years ago, while all three plants were in full bloom. That summer, they were gorgeous, though short-lived. The next year, I eagerly awaited their second performance. Nothing. Nada. They were lush and green for most of the winter and then died off in a late January cold snap. By May, they had grown bushy and full of promise again, then nothing. Zip. 

By the third summer, I had learned to be wary of them, adapting an insouciant attitude. I was faking it, of course. Very casually, I would walk by pretending not to pay too close attention. Eventually, I went through the jilted gardener’s list. Was there too much sun? Too little??? Too much water??? Not enough water???  

Soon, resentment set in, and I resolved to ignore them. Next, not wanting to dig them up, I half-convinced myself that I liked the foliage as much as the flowers. After all, the foliage was decorative, and the blooms lasted only a short time anyway. I wanted flowers, but refused to be emotionally manipulated.  

The fourth summer, two small blooms emerged. At first, I refused to let myself get worked up but eventually gave in. I even took pictures, but they didn’t turn out well. The film had expired, which I didn’t discover until I got the scans from the lab. I took these blossoms as a peace offering, so at least we’re on speaking terms again. 

Three weeks ago, while watering, I noticed one plant had put up four stalks! And now, having waited for so long, I have a bunch of showy blossoms again! Even better, one plant that had been flowerless for four years put up a stalk! All is forgiven. Perhaps we’ll do lunch or at least coffee—I don’t want to rush into anything. 


  1. Once again I have enjoyed your landscape of the beautiful flowers of the Nile. I am thrilled to add this to my collection of your art work. I likewise enjoy the humor displayed in this article romancing the plant, lol continue the good work.

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

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