“The Gloriosa superba is native to South India. During the autumn rains you find it shooting in the lane bordered thickly by huge cactus and aloe. Here and there you see it in the open field. In the field it will have a chance, you think; but in the lane, crowded down by cactus and spike, what can a poor lily do but give in and disappear? A few weeks afterwards you can see a patch of colour on the field, you go and gather handfuls of lovely lilies, and you revel in the tangle of colour, a little bewilderment of delight. But the lane, go to the lane. There you see something far more satisfying, not only entangled colour, but all the grace of form, God’s full thought grown to perfection. Eight feet up in the clear air, bright against the luminous blue, unfurling its fire-flowers like banners of triumph, there is the lily victorious. Each little delicate bud and leaf seems as if filled with a separate keen little joy: the joy of just being beautiful and free.
“The Gloriosa will exist in the field, as it will exist in the English hothouse, because it must. But it is not happy there. There is no proper development. Give it life, not just existence. Give it something to conquer. Give it the thorn and the spike. . . ."