Monday, May 16, 2011

Wildflowers and Lilies... and my 'To Do' List

*Note: It was 93 to 102 degrees here for the first 10 days of May... with no rain since last October! It was 36 degrees this morning!

The cool this week is certainly a welcome respite from the unprecedented heat which arrived the first of May. Not since the year 2000 have spring temperatures been so high this early. Our internal systems, as well as those of the garden, were ill prepared for the sudden rush; ideally heat should arrive gradually. However the amazing rainfall last Thursday banished it, if only momentarily. With only minimum rain, the brittle brown fields sprang to life as in a time-lapse scene from the African Savannas. There plant life may remain dormant for years until a sudden downpour releases it from entrapment in dusty, hardened tombs. Our native grasses and wildflowers awoke and are in magnificent form this week; it is a pleasure to see they were not lost to us altogether this year! The old adage 'better late than never' is a truism.

The true lilies are beginning their show and since they begin blooming after the Iris and Peonies, yet before the annuals, they are a perfect addition to the garden. They take up a small space in the flower bed, arriving with compact foliage, heads high above companion plantings residing at their feet. There are over 2,000 species and twelve are native to the United States where they may still be found growing in woodland settings. All along the southeastern coast the Meadow Lily and Southern Red Lily grow and both have either orange, red or yellow flowers spotted with deep purple. The Leopard and Sierra Lily grows from California to Oregon and the Wood Lily may be found from Maine to Missouri. All have a hot orange to red color and signature purple spotting.

The most famous of the cultivated true lilies are the Easter lily, Tiger Lily, and Madonna Lily. Other favorites include the Chinese and Japanese hybrids which are believed to symbolize prosperity and wealth… the lovely Stargazer is among these. Surprising members of the lily family include asparagus, aloe, hyacinth, trillium, hosta, and tulip, with the daylily and water lily not family members at all. Since a true lily is never dormant it must be treated as a perennial plant where action occurs continually, even when it seems to be resting. Therefore it needs a permanent place in the bed where it may live undisturbed; it will not divide or travel.

Some of the Asiatic varieties present multiple blooms on one stem, providing an outstanding display of color and form. Other lilies present just one perfect flower at the top of a delicate stem. If properly cared for, freshly harvested Asiatic lilies will last a week in your home. To prepare a bouquet submerge the flowers in tap water as you cut them. Once inside, put them directly in a vase of tepid water then place the arrangement in a cool room, changing the water each day for a week of scented splendor.

* Important to Remember: Leave the foliage but cut the spent flowers following blooming... before it forms that silly seed pod. The pod will take energy from the bulb and yet will not form viable seeds.

To Do List... the bottom chore that's missing was 'weed the garden... again'. Will I ever get it all done?