August is the month when my garden really goes full-on Victorian, a color explosion of old fashioned flowers plucked from a John Singer Sargent canvas. Hollyhocks, phlox, lilies and roses dot my landscape as if applied from the artist’s palette. At night when all is still and a gentle breeze cuts across my porch, it carries the perfume of late summer, that of the lily.
Thanks to a little photo-editing magic, my lily regale is firmly rooted in the Aesthetic Movement.
Disneyland is to a child as the Pacific Northwest is to the lily bulb; it’s very very happy here. Our cool summers and fast draining soils produce a robust flower of gob-smacking proportions and presence. This queen of flowers holds court and my attention at every turn.
Because lily blooms can be fleeting, I’ve explored ways to extend their visitations and enjoy their blooms for a longer period of time. It’s a simple ploy and one that doubles the vase and garden life of most lily flowers; I remove the stamens before pollen can be produced.
The flower’s purpose is to attract a pollinator, facilitate seed production and then fade away when the mission is accomplished. By plucking the stamens off, you circumvent the floral foreplay so there’s no pollen to trigger the process of reproduction.
When the lily flower begins to open, simply pluck the pollen-less stamens from the flower. If you wait too long the pollen appears and resistance is futile, the pollen spores will locate the pistil and love will find a way. The flower having done its job will retire to the garden bed below and enrich the soil as it once enriched the view.