The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No more crying over crinums

As I’ve remarked before, I had to wait a long, long time for my crinums to bloom, particularly the one designated as ‘milk and wine’.  For the uninitiated, crinums are wonderfully tough, long-lived bulbs, not true lilies, but with beautiful flowers of many shapes and shades.   Looking back, it is obvious that my crinum bulbs went through a lot:  planted in pots, hauled from one home to another, parked for keeping at our daughter’s house during a winter, hauled again to our current home, but not planted out for quite awhile until beds could be prepared.  And all of that in addition to some bitter winters and burning summers.  And most bulbs, regardless of variety, take a bit of time to settle in when they are moved, just like all other perennials. 

So!  The white crinums, crinum powellii album, have bloomed some, but they apparently prefer mid-summer for blooming, and this having been the hottest summer for any state in the country in recorded weather time, it was obviously more remarkable that they bloomed at all.  It’s just that crinums enjoy (or suffer from) a very hyped reputation as the toughest bulbs ever, and that just doesn’t seem to be always true.  Labeling anything as ‘can’t fail’ is just setting everyone up for disappointment.  Although the variety of crinum called Ellen Bonsanquet sure is amazing.  Planted it last spring, it perked right up and bloomed and bloomed last year, then this year there it went again.  And a gorgeous rose color to boot.

Which brings me to the ‘milk and wine’ lilies.   If you ever have the chance for one, take it.  The wait is worth it, and it might not even be that much of a wait if you don’t have to haul it from pillar to post as we did.  The milk-and-wine bloomed here awhile back, and I didn’t spot it in time to see it fresh and pretty, just said ‘oh, hello’, because it was too **** hot.  Ah, but the other day, we were outside moving compost around, and I smelled this lovely fragrance and looked around and there was a whole bouquet on one stem and it was perfuming the garden.  So the next morning I cut the stem and brought it in and being fresh it has these lovely streaks of rosy red along the petals and the stamens match that color, and it stands in the vase a bouquet all in itself.  And … there’s another stem coming up.   Ahhhhh – it’s payback time, at last.  Now if I can just get this other new crinum bulb to get going; it’s called Stars and Stripes and I can hardly wait!  Again!

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