John Grimshaw asked, with respect to mass displays of Lycoris squamigera " But my question is, how do such displays develop? Is it from seed?" One of the things about Lycoris squamigera of which younger people have no reason to be aware is its changed commercial status in recent years. There was a time when it was, to use the local expression, "dirt cheap". I did a double take the first time I saw bulbs being offered for $8.00 each. I can remember when they were a quarter (i.e. twenty-five cents)! In the past, this plant was evidently not all that highly esteemed. It's nothing new: it's been in our gardens since the nineteenth century, and from the beginning it was known as a hardy garden plant even in the north. If it has significant pests or diseases, I have not heard of them. Once planted, it's likely to persist indefinitely. Knowledgeable growers probably regarded it as an understudy for Amaryllis belladonna, a distant second best to be sure in my opinion. It was often marketed as a gimmick: some of the names used for it, which range from appeals to the pious ("resurrection lily") to the salacious ("naked ladies") suggest that copy writers had a good time with this one. To its ultimate disadvantage, the plant became widely known as hardy amaryllis: that name only called attention to its shortcomings in comparison to fragrant, elegant Amaryllis belladonna. Lycoris squamigera is what I think of as a "boy's plant": it has what it takes to appeal to the relatively unsophisticated expectations of a child. It's the sort of tough, nearly indestructible plant a doting aunt or grandparent can give to one of the young members of the family in the hope of encouraging an interest in gardening. Please don't regard the above as faint praise as I go on to say how much I like this plant. Taken on its own merits, it's one of those plants I would not want to be without. But the simple truth is that one very rarely sees it used in local gardens a way which brings its best qualities to the fore. It often seems to have been sited as an afterthought, with little regard for its companions. Nor is that surprising: although it is capable of making a big splash, splash it certainly is: the blooming season is relatively brief, and most gardeners apparently have not regarded this brief display as worthy of more than superficial treatment in the garden. Someone long ago suggested growing them among Hosta - I would use H. ventricosa in particular. And they would be lovely rising over a wide mass of one of the taller forms of Ageratum houstonianum or Iris dichotoma. Now to address John's question directly: how did those gardens which display this plant in masses acquire such largesse? Almost certainly by simply planting the once inexpensive bulbs in masses at the very beginning. I know a small local garden where the two dominant plants are Matteuccia struthiopteris and Lycoris squamigera: there are probably many hundreds of each. The Matteuccia were obtained inexpensively from a mail order dealer far to the north who sold collected plants, and at the time the garden was planted the Lycoris was comparatively inexpensive, too. Lycoris squamigera does not as far as I am aware set viable seed under garden conditions; in fact, it has long been regarded as a hybrid of Lycoris sprengeri (which does set viable seed readily and which it resembles so much). So the big displays one sees are not the result of propagation by seed. The bulbs divide readily and grow lustily in our climate. It's a real job to dig an old clump, especially if the bulbs have worked their way down into the soil. The culture of this plant is little different than that of garden daffodils, and with that in mind, it's a mystery why they are now so expensive. The same might be said of Sternbergia lutea - and for the same reasons. Jim McKenney Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where it's a good thing the naked ladies make their departure well before the naked boys show up!