Written by Ginger Harness, Rohlffs Manor Resident
You can witness something beautiful unfolding, magical and amazing in this Easter exhibit of nearly 200 brightly colored Calla lilies. This work of love and display of beauty is meant to bring joy to the community and to be shared with others, with neighbors, friends, family, guests, and tourists, too.
It was twenty years ago, on Easter, when I first saw a painted lily and experienced childlike surprise and curiosity. For a couple of weeks before Easter, I had been viewing the elegant white Calla lilies in front of my mother’s home. But this day, this Easter morning twenty years ago, as I walked up the stairs of the front porch to my mother’s Napa home, I noticed her Calla lilies were not white any more.
These same lilies that I had seen the day before were now an exhibit of strikingly beautiful color. I was amazed, smiling, and happy—a grin from ear to ear. I leaned down to look under, inside, and all around the individual lilies, but could not figure out how the transformation had taken shape. I wanted to satisfy my own curiosity almost as much as I wanted to share this magical and amazing Easter delight with others.
I planted Calla lilies every year for five years and I tried several ways to change white Calla lilies into colorful Calla lilies. Finally, five years later and fifteen years ago I found a way to do it. So, early Easter morning, before anyone could see the transformation taking place, I walked out of my apartment at Rohlffs Memorial Manor to secretly transform each Calla lily. And that is how I began my Calla lily exhibit as a gift to community.
I love standing in my apartment looking out my window at the colored lilies and watching people discover them and marvel over them for the first time. People walking by slow down and do a double-take. I can see their surprise, a grin from ear to ear, and then, always without fail, their curiosity takes over.
They walk over, lean down, and look under, inside, and around the lily. Those same flowers were always white – what happened? Later, that day, or the next day, the same people would bring others to see, and those people would come again with more people. This grass roots display of love keeps spreading.
I enjoy coming outside to talk with the visitors. They always want to know how the white lilies became colored lilies. I even had a landscape company knock on my door and ask where I had bought those hybrids. For the longest time I would not reveal my secret. I just said that the Easter bunny did it every year.
I continued that tale for many years until the lilies multiplied into hundreds and, obviously, I could no longer keep my method an early morning secret. I use $300.00 worth of paint and spend more than 25 hours over several days as the Calla lilies keep opening up and the painting continues. Oops, there goes my secret. Yes. I paint the Calla lilies while they are living, still growing and blooming, and still in the ground. And now friends and acquaintances are also excited about painting the lilies. So, we paint them together, the weekend before Easter weekend.
The Easter Calla Lily Exhibit also carries with it a transformative spiritual message. You can be one thing one day and be something entirely different the next day. You can stand in the middle of life and
witness something beautiful unfolding.