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Naked ladies flaunt it at our fine, old cemetery

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 | Posted by


By Chris Smith/The Press Democrat


Naked ladies have overrun the historical/recreational treasure that is Santa Rosa’s Rural Cemetery. I could hardly take my eyes off them when I stopped by the pioneer graveyard at the urging of volunteer groundskeeper Linda Ross.

She’d advised in an e-mail, “You might want to let folks know that the Naked Ladies (amaryllis belladonna) in the Rural Cemetery are putting on quite a show right now.  Every year we seem to have more, and this year they’re downright exuberant.”

So true. Abundant clumps of the slender-stalked pink flowers both contrast and complement the weathered headstones and plots of the wooded old graveyard on Franklin Avenue, near the Town & Country shopping center.

As is typical of the hardy volunteers who lovingly maintain the cemetery, Linda knows her history.

“Naked Ladies arrived in the U.S. in the early 1800’s, traveling a circuitous route from South America via Europe,” she shared.  “The pioneer women brought their bulbs across and, thanks to them, as well as nurserymen like Luther Burbank, California became a breeding center for the bulb in the 1890’s.

“So the old girls have some history, and they’re hard to beat when it comes to gaudy glory.”

Do check them out, but no whistling! It’s a cemetery, for goodness sake.

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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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