In praise of... toad lily promise

In May I bought a little plant at a street market: a toad lily, or - to give it the splendour of its full title -  a Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty'. At the time it consisted of a single short, slender stem with a few leaves: I bought it not for how it was, but for how it would be; for its promise of delicate beauty, though I had no idea when exactly that promise would be kept. I was also strangely attracted by its deeply unattractive common name - 'toad' and 'lily' not being words I would normally use to describe the same thing. It's what we'd call an unpromising name.

According to the information I found, toad lilies enjoy partial or even full shade, and are late flowering; one of nature's bridges between late summer and early autumn. So I planted it in a small trough in a shady corner. Over the next few months the stem grew a couple of inches, adding a few more leaves. Meanwhile, the rest of the garden blossomed and bloomed: poppies, pansies, roses, jasmine, buddleia, sunflowers... a festival of summer colours and scents, though now considerably subdued. Every so often I wondered whether my little lily would join in, or if - as seemed likely - it was merely gathering strength for next year... And then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed some tiny dark purple buds, no bigger than grains of rice...

... And now, as we leave summer behind, the first bud has bloomed. The promise has been kept; and it is indeed a beauty, belying its unlovely name. It's also small, unobtrusive and delicate: a reminder that God's gifts and promise aren't always to be found in what is showy, loud and eye-catching, but in people and places and events which can seem small and insignificant, and are easily overlooked. May God grant us eyes able to see them, and hearts to understand.