Some people also call them “Surprise Lilies,” and others call them “Pink Spider Lilies” or “August Lilies.” The botanical name is “Lycoris squamigera,” a plant in the Amaryllis family. One garden expert states, “these [flowers] are unique and a great gardening conversation piece.” I like these flowers. Seeing them come up each summer, I feel comforted. I feel that all is well in the garden.
My lilies stand along with my “Lovely Kay” and “Mary Pascal,” iris plants I purchased from a friend, a registered iris grower. My blue forget-me-nots have disappeared. I named them my Quaintance flowers because a long time ago a first grade teacher whose name was Quaintance gave me the starts from her garden. That’s the way my garden grows.
As an author, I am interested in names. My flowers speak to me of people I have known, places I have been, and memories I have experienced. Much like the naming of characters in a story or novel, an author must be careful to select names that will portray or typify one’s characters. The name must signify the personality, potential, and even the portent of a character.
At a recent writer’s group, one man, I’ll call him Les, said he renamed one of his characters because it didn’t sound like the character he perceived. His character is Hector. No one in the writer’s group complained because we had become acquainted with his character, a stocky, muscular dock worker who lived and loved “large.” Alas, in Les’ novel Hector is killed off in a violent fight. Another writer in the group, ML Rigdon, writes fiction in the Regency genre. The names she gives her characters are as interesting as my Mary Pascal iris plant.
Anyone who has enjoyed naming a pet can identify with the dilemma authors have naming characters. Is the name dominant enough? Forceful enough? Or will the character dance in the early morning sunlight as slender and innocent as the naked ladies in my garden? If so, perhaps the name of Cynthia, Marylena, or Rose might work.
And speaking of roses, in the 1980s, the General Federation of Women’s organization issued a commemorative rose plant named the “Jennie June Rose.” I purchased one and gave it to my neighbor Carol. Every spring Carol brings me the first rose that blooms on her Jennie June bush. It’s something of a thirty-year tradition, a surprise that the bush continues to flourish. Its color is deep red; its fragrance is lovely; and it’s a beauty. I have tried in vain to find another Jennie June Rose, but alas, like many characters’ names in novels, the rose also has disappeared. If a book’s character is remembered—think Scarlet in Gone with the Wind or Captain Ahab in Moby Dick or Nathanial Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne, then an author can be proud. Every author hopes his or her characters will be remembered and not disappear after a few weeks like the naked ladies in my backyard will.