Opinion

HELEN LANG: Lily season dazzles the eyes

Driving along Lochside Drive, where it parallels the sea, the town has had planted clumps of day lilies (Hemerocallis) which look spectacular with the blue water behind them. Those flower beds alongside the seaside walkway were an inspired thought. They add so much pleasure to passing drivers and to the folks using the seawalk.

This is lily season for sure. There are two very ordinary orange-ish ones flowering on the balcony right now, with two more in a separate pot still in bud, colour unknown.

It makes me scream when I think of the lilies I had on Melissa Street – 15 of them in pots on the deck, all different, everything from tiger lilies to lily of the Nile, and in the front garden, in shade, a monster which reached seven feet tall – too tall to see inside the blooms without binoculars and too tall for a windy balcony, although I’m tempted to grow tall sunflowers next year, just for fun.

Lily bulbs may be planted either in the fall or in the spring in deep, loose, well drained soil (which makes pots ideal), provided your container is deep enough to cover the bulb with several inches of soil. Keep your pots watered, as lilies should never dry out and cover pots with compost or a good mulch for – er, dare I say it – winter. Ugh, what a nasty thought. But that is still a long way off, thank heavens.

Lilies, like clematis, prefer their roots in the shade, but their tops in the sun (not always easy to provide). There are more than 50 varieties listed in one of my gardening books, so you’ll have a wide choice. Do look for height, depth to plant and preferred location before buying, but do consider a lily or two if you have the room. Some of them are fragrant.

One word of warning: Don’t get the pollen on your nose or clothes while having a sniff. It is murder to remove. You may get the pollen out of your shirt, but scrubbing your nose is painful and not always successful, and who needs a shining orange proboscis (nose)? I had to look it up too.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.

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