Friday Night Family Heirlooms: Grandma Ola’s Lily

Friday Night Family Heirlooms

Grandma Ola’s Lily

These type lilies were always around my Grandma Ola’s farmhouse in Siloam, Georgia and all around the countryside. Even today I still find them in the area there around the older country homes and farms; they are truly just plain old country lilies. They aren’t found all over the South though, in fact… I’ve never found them outside of the Siloam area unless someone transplanted them… like my Mama!


Mama’s “Ola” Lily by the back door…

These aren’t plants you’d go to the local nursery to buy, it’s more a “pass-along” plant that you’ve inherited from someone… another type of heirloom.

When my mother married and moved, one town over, to Union Point…. she dug up a bulb of her mother’s lilies and brought it to her new home. Every house mama has lived in…. she planted one of those old country lilies! When she moved to Perry, she planted a lily by the back door…. and it grew huge! There were no lilies like it around there either. She now lives in Monroe – Yes she has lilies there also. For some reason, she always liked to plant one by the back door, and the one there is huge today! Maybe it likes being by the back door… for some reason!

Jeanne New 2_0001

Mama and me… and there’s an “Ola” lily

For many years I just called it my “Ola” lily after my grandmother Ola McKinley; it always left me with a sweet memory of her whenever I looked at it.  Several years ago I read an article in Southern Living, and… I saw my “Ola” lily and soon learned it had a name! It was a Crinum lily and known as “milk and wine”…. but I still like calling it my “Ola” lily.

As they age, their bulbs grow into massive bulbs… how do I know? Well, we’ve dug them up at mama’s… and dug, and dug, and dug… and still didn’t get them up! Mama says that when they become “huge”, you need to turn the hose on, laying it at the base of the plant and “soak” it really, really good… and only then you might be able to dig it up using “man” power!


Mama soaking one of the Ola lilies… probably the one I brought home!

I’ve since discovered that these species of bulbs came into the United States from the Caribbean regions, they are truly tropical plants. While they are perennials in the South, they are not in Connecticut. My first mistake was trying to weather it over in the ground here… and I sadly discovered it as a wet mush in the spring! I was not happy…. and called mama begging for another bulb.

Before the airlines cracked down on “what” you could bring on the plane…  I brought home lots of plants! Mama’s yard was full of beautiful flowering plants and I wanted one of everything she had! But my favorite was always my “Ola” lily. My son accompanied me mostly on those trips and my special “yellow” suitcase was only brought to carry plants home in; I’m sure it came close to the weight limit of 50 pounds every year! I believe there’s a law of not carrying plants across state lines…. but! The day before we packed to leave was always spent out in mama’s yard, digging and packing in plastic bag hothouses for the trip… and they all weathered well….  heavy, but they made it to Connecticut with no questions asked!

Many of her beautiful flowers have finally flowered out in my yard and no longer return… and I miss them so, but her Hibiscus I brought home have flourished and still bloom with deep pink saucer size flowers every July. I still envy her Angel Trumpets there, but they aren’t hardy here and it requires me, hubby to drag pots in and out of the cellar each year. We used to do that with the Ola Lily, but now he digs up the bulbs and stores them in a dark box and replants in the summer… much lighter!


Remember… not all your “Heirlooms” are material things!

As I was leaving the house this morning, a beautiful Monarch butterfly was enjoying nectar on Ola’s Lily… it quickly flitted around me and then graciously lighted again for me to photograph! Do you think Grandma Ola came to visit? I believe it was a sign!



Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to read more stories…

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Family Heirloom Bloggers:

I started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Writing the stories of the family heirlooms I’ve been entrusted with has been on my mind for a long time; the time is now and I plan to write their stories on a weekly basis.

Please check out the weekly Family Heirloom stories of…

Blogger: Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Blogger: Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Blogger: Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Blogger: Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Blogger:  Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
Blogger: True Lewis at Notes to Myself
Blogger: Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons                              Blogger: Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Blogger: Kathy Rice at
Blogger: Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog
Blogger: Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Check out her Blog at –  52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap  for links to more Heirloom posts.

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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6 Responses to Friday Night Family Heirlooms: Grandma Ola’s Lily

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    Beautiful ending. Aunt Ola visiting? You just never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. treeklimber says:

    I like your story about a “non-traditional’ heirloom. Plants are heirlooms too and your blog about the Ola lily exemplifies it quite well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wish my transplants form home would have survived…heirlooms may be non traditional…I have poems,and recipes…memories…thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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