Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Give me Fragrant Lilies any Day

'Conc D'Or' lilies
Day 26
The Daily DuBrule

Today is Valentine's Day and all thoughts turn to roses. Well, roses are great, but give me fragrant lilies ANY day! 

Nowadays in most parts of Connecticut, you have to really love your lilies to grow them. That is because of the dreaded red lily leaf beetle that invaded our gardens a few years ago. This nasty creature can destroy a stand of lilies in a few weeks. I start scouting for the lily leaf beetle in April, as its alternate host is Frittilaria. I then begin my daily routine of inspecting my lilies and squishing all the egg cases and beetles I see. Once or twice a season I spray them with neem, an organic spray, but usually I scout and squish. The resulting gorgeous, clean, fragrant, to-die-for lilies are shown above.
Damage from lily leaf beetles-yuck!
I am determined to keep growing the fragrant lilies I love. Many have just given up. What I have done is locate all the lilies I have chosen to keep front and center where it is easy to inspect them, and consequently, enjoy them. In the morning, I bend down low and look up at the undersides of the leaves. I make my rounds of the five place I have lilies growing. It's quick and it gets me out in the garden early every day. When I get home, if it's before dark, I pour myself a glass of wine and wander around inspecting my "estate". In the process, I check again. This works for me.

I decided last year to eliminate all non-fragrant Asiatic lilies from my garden. After scouting and squishing from April until they bloomed in June, I realized it wasn't worth it for me. If a lily wasn't intoxicatingly fragrant, I didn't need it. I did leave my patch of non-fragrant, old fashioned orange tiger lilies as they came from a dear old friends garden who is no longer gardening on this earth. They have sentimental value beyond belief. They are right by my garage door so I have to check on them whenever I go to my car.
Asiatic lilies surrounded by snowball Viburnum blossoms. Lovely as they were, I removed them from my garden.
When I used to have an FTD flower shop and sell flowers on Valentine's Day, I used to give my customers choices. Sure, we had the classic red roses, as well as roses of all colors. But I would also put together mixed bouquets with a theme. The fragrant bouquet was the most popular alternative to plain old roses- oriental lilies, freesias, tuberoses, and a couple of purple roses that smelled like heaven on earth.

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