Thursday, May 23, 2013
The Trouble With Lilies
The storm system that pounded Oklahoma is now driving our weather. Thunder and lightening with torrential downpours and fierce winds were with us. Our power outage lasted only a few minutes and the tomato plants were twisted about. The tomatoes have been righted with only one torn stem showing the hammering that they took. This storm's impact on the lilies will hit tomorrow night.
The monster storm from the south has been blocking cold air from the north. The hot system will pass by opening the door for the mountains of cold air that have piled up. We can expect three nights of freezing overnight temperatures beginning tomorrow.
The lilies have loved all of the rain and the warm air growing daily. Some will no longer fit under the buckets that have protected them from earlier frosts. The orange spotted lilies shown above will fit under the new trash can but the leaves will contact the sides of the can. Flower buds should be safe but the leaves in contact with the sides of the can may burn if the temperatures are low.
Our two surviving Farolito bulbs are confined to one pot. This lily has buds now. If common sense held any sway here we would get rid of this lily as it blooms way too early. This pot will be lifted again and spend the next three cold nights in the basement. That may not sound so bad but the three gallon pot is filled with water saturated soil. This old man will have some trouble pulling this pot from the ground by its rim. I wonder what combination of colorful words will fill the air with the attempt.
These Simplon lilies have exceeded their catalog description in height by a factor of two. Last year they exceeded six feet tall. The original three bulbs now number six mature bulbs with many daughter bulbs potted up in the sod house. The new can will not cover all six plants. It would have if the plants had grown straight up from where I placed the bulbs last fall but that did not happen. Some combination of two shorter buckets may provide the necessary frost protection. If we can get safely past this next period of frost, these six plants will produce more than one hundred huge pure white sweetly scented flowers over a period of several days.
Thirty-three pots of lilies fill the sod house. These plants are still short enough to cover in place with a tarp. The browned leaf tips are scars from an earlier frost experience. New leaves have grown out above the damaged leaves and by the time the flowers appear no one will notice the low brown leaf tips. We always remove the plants from the pots when we set out the lilies in the garden trying to preserve the structure of the clump. This year I expect that we will have more than one clump fall apart as it is shaken from an inverted pot. More colorful phrasing is expected.
Twenty different varieties of lilies too tender to grow here cannot be justified by any logical explanation. We really should grow fewer, but a new variety purchased this spring is just now breaking the surface in its pot. What combination of color and scent will this new arrival tease us with this summer? Therein lies the problem. Lilies are simply much too beautiful and sweetly scented to not exist here. We will have to face this year the overwhelming numbers of daughter bulbs that will appear. How many lilies is too many?