My love affair with orange started when I purchased my first clivia more than a decade ago. I had seen the plant in an expensive garden catalogue, and despite the price, I couldn't resist its vibrant bloom in the dead of winter. By March most of my houseplants are hanging on by their fingernails, and that's when clivias wake up and sing. Native to South Africa, Clivia miniata is mostly grown as a houseplant, though I've seen gardens in Southern California where clivias cover entire hillsides (and I've stood, drooling…). There's a bit of controversy about pronouncing the name (gardeners tend to have strong opinions)—most say it with a soft "i" (like "give"), but it was named in the early 19th century for Lady Charlotte Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, so a long "i" (like alive) is supposed to be official. However you pronounce it, it's a spectacular plant. From the moment the compact flower bud starts to emerge from the center of the elegant, dark green leaves, it is a joy to observe. The cluster of blossoms swells as the stem grows to about 18 inches. Then the swollen green buds open one at a time into deep orange flowers with yellow throats. When the sun shines through the petals, they vibrate like flames. The clivia in my Transience series gives the full picture. As the blooms begin to fade, the color shifts to a lighter, rosier orange, then they drop off one at a time. By then my outdoor garden is waking up, and I can only thank the clivia for getting me to daffodil season.