Eden: or, a compleat body of gardening (1757)
John Hill

Digested from the writings of the late Thomas Hale

Crimson Amaryllis

The most vulgar Eye is struck with the Beauty of this plant, and it very well deserves the Title of Elegant. The common Authors, Lillium Americanum, and Lilio narcissus Polyanthos. Its proper Name is, Amaryllis spatha multiflora corollis campanulatis aequalibus genitalibus declinatis. Amaryllis, with many Flowers from the Cup, and those equal, and of a campanulated Form, and with the Thread crooked.

The Root is large, and of a rounded Form; the Leaves are long and flaggy, but of a fresh and very, lively green. The stalk is round, firm, upright, green, and juicy. The Flowers stand at the top, several rising from one point together, out of a common scabbard, and spreading out each way to form an elegant cluster.

Each Flower is very large, and uncommonly elegant: its Colour is a fleshy Crimson, and in the Centre there is a large Circle of yellow, terminated every Way by a kind of Rays.

Each separate Flower grows naked to its Footstalk, without a Cup: the Scabbard, at the Top of the main Stalk serving that Office for all.

The body of the Flower is compos'd of six broad, wav'd, and pointed Petals, rising small and slender from the Base, and spreading elegantly at the Opening. Within stand six long and very conspicuous Filaments, with large Buttons at the top; the filaments droop and bend, and their buttons rise upward. In the center of these stands the Style, a little shorter than the Filaments, bending in the same Manner with them, and parted at the Top into three slender Segments. The Seed-vessel is oval, and contains, in three Cells, numerous moderately large seeds.

The Student here becomes acquainted with a new Class of the Linnaean System. He sees the Filaments rise free and regular; and he finds their Number six: it is a Number not seen in any of the preceding Plants, and it makes a Class different from any of those to which they belong: this is the sixth of Linnaeus; its Name Hexandria; form'd of two Greek Words, as the preceding, and signifying Plants in whose Flower there are six Male Parts. The Style is single, therefore it belongs to the first Section of that Class, the Monogynia. The Student, from this Example, will learn how to dispose all other Plants, whose Flower has six Threads and a single Style: they are of the hexandrous and monogynous Kind.

The common Writers distinguish a deep purple Amaryllis, as the Belladonna Lilly, distinct from this which they call Red Lilly; but we write to guard the Student against their Errors. Linnaeus has established this Point in his Species Plantarum, Vol. I. p. 293.

It is Native of the warmer Parts of America, and its Roots are brought thence in Abundance. Our people complain that they are rarely good; but this is owing to an Error in Management, so very flagrant, that one wonders any, who have either practis'd or read the least of Gardening, could fall into it.

The Roots are taken up at random, and planted with a foolish Care, in Boxes of damp Mould. Thus they are weaken'd by being removed at a time wrong Time, and they rot with the abundant Moisture.

Every one knows that Roots of all this kind of Plants will bear to be kept several Months out of the Ground, taking them up at proper Seasons; and thus they may be transported without Fear of Accidents.

It is the Course of Nature in this Plant, that the Flowers appear before the Leaves.

About this Time, the first week of September, a naked Stalk rises to support the Flowers; soon after come the Leaves, and they keep green till May. All these Plants have their Time of growing, and their Period of Rest. These are the Months in which the Root is employ'd to take up Nourishment, and to convey it to the Stalks, the Flowers, the Seed-vessels, or Leaves: but, towards the End of May the Leaves fade, and nothing else rises till the succeeding September.

This is the Time of Rest in the Plant; but not all of it: the Fibres are shot out in August for the nourishment of the September Stalk, so that the Time for the absolute Rest is the end of May, all June, and the beginning of July. Within this Period let the Roots be taken up in the native Place of the Plants Growth; let the Earth be clean'd from them; let them be spread to dry gently, and then ty'd up in Bags. Thus they may be sent over to England in their full Vigour.

There will thus be no Error in taking them up while growing; no Danger of their Rotting in coming over: they will be kept in the same Condition, as if bought from some careful Gardener, who had taken them out of the Earth in the due Course of his Profession, and they will grow freely.

They require Heat to produce their Flowers; and the best Management is to Plant them in a Compost, half Mould, one quarter rotted Wood, and the other quarter Sand. In this they are to be carefully planted; and the Pots to be set in a Hot Bed of Tanners Bark. Less Heat will keep them alive, but thus they never fail to flourish.


The bloom Time indicated by Hill is for South America where the plants originated. There are species of Amaryllis in the Bahia district of Brazil, for instance, which fit the description, and bloom in the autumn—which is the beginning of the rainy season there.

The image is obviously copied (badly) from Merian's Lilium rubrum. Here are the plates from Hill's 1758 Outlines.

Hill's descriptions were copied almost verbatim in John Dicks' New Gardeners Dictionary (1771).