The Zephyr lily (Zephyranthes) is not typically found in Kentucky nor is it known to thrive in the cold north of Indiana but because of the caring by one family they have found their way to North Carolina. In fact I, Norma Patton-Buhrman, have transplanted this unique lily in a way that maps my life’s travels dating back the 1940s. This unique flower, more closely related to amaryllis than the lily, is also known as the rain lily or fairy lily. It is considered a New World bulb native to subtropical, warm temperate regions of the south. Much like the family story behind these flowers, they are hearty and vigorous as well as beautiful. My family called them “Grandma Crafts.”
The real Grandma Craft found these hidden in the woods near Albany, Kentucky, where most thought of them as weeds. But in 1948, when her daughter Ana Craft moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, Grandma Craft gave her a pot full of them as a going away gift. Ana moved her family to northern Indiana where she planted the bulbs in a special place each summer. I remember my mother Ana telling us to be careful around them and not knock the pots off as we played outside. The oldest in the family, Jo, a gardener in her own right, decided to dig some up and replanted them each year. They multiplied vigorously. As the years went on Jo began to share them with family and friends, meticulously digging them up and re-potting them in special pots. There were five siblings in the family, mostly living in northern Indiana, but as we grew and started our own families the tradition continued with members dividing and passing along “Grandma Crafts.” I brought mine to Fayetteville in the 1960s when my family returned from Germany. Friends, now spread around the United States, have taken them to share with others. There are now five generations of giving and planting these special plants, reminding me of family travels including Maine with my oldest son, Washington State with my second son, and South Carolina with my daughter.