The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small beauties

There’s a lot to be said about trees and shrubs in a garden.  I’ve seen many where shades of green and contrasting textures of leaves have created beauty and harmony and an atmosphere of peace.

On the other hand, there are those of us who are enamored of flowering plants and the more the merrier.  Alas, I am one of those.  And while there are many (some would say too many) flowering plants that I must have around me, such as hemerocallis and chrysanthemums and pansies, some of the most amazing plants to which I am addicted are bulbs:  daffodils, amaryllis, grape hyacinths and Dutch hyacinths, Dutch iris, sternbergia, rhodophiala,  and even tulips, although tulips seldom repeat in my part of the world. 

And here is one of the most wonderful aspects of bulbs, to me.  One holds a bulb that usually has not a bit of a sign of life, with a few dried roots at the bottom and dry onion-looking skin, and with the only encouragement a sense of weight and firmness, if one is lucky.  One plants it in the earth, gives it a bit of a drink, and depending on the variety, will not see anything of it for months.   It will be buried under earth, mulch, and sometimes snow or ice, and then when the time is right, when warmth and rain and length of days all meet, shoots will emerge and buds and then flowers, all out of that dried-looking lump.  And oh, the colors and scents and variety of size and type.

And it’s no use to say that one has no flower bed and can’t grow bulbs.  Hah!  Because most bulbs, certainly hyacinths, daffodils and tulips and amaryllis, are very easily grown in pots.  So all one needs is a suitably sized pot, some store-bought potting soil, and a suitable bulb, and one can plant according to directions, put the pot away in the dark of a closet for awhile, and then in a sunny window or doorway for awhile, and voila, there is beauty.  Or if one is simply too intimidated to do that, buy a potted, about to bloom, bulb, at the grocery store.  Enjoy it every day.  Learn about what happens when it fades and goes dormant.  And remember the old Persian proverb, “If I had two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, and they would feed my soul.”

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