Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I never know what I am going to find when I dig down into one of the big pots on the terrace because I forget. I think that's why I am able to read so many books so many times. I forget. And then I see things there that I never saw before. In the pots and the books.

In breaking down my already cracked terra cotta pot I was stabbed by a sharp shard of the clay, so bled prettily for a bit until I patched it up. Then I saw that I had managed to crush a violet while moving the new pot into place. The first violet of spring on the terrace.

I knew I would find lily bulbs, of course, but was not sure how many. The two huge ones must be Silk Road, the lily that grows over six feet tall. Then the smaller, pale ones, and many babies of the same. Very mixed feelings about the babies (which look delicious, incidentally and are apparently very good to eat).

I do not have the luxury of empty nursery beds up here, and every plant is expected to deliver. Bad enough I waited one year for a hollyhock grown from seed to bloom this year,  only to have it rot come spring. So what to do with immature lilies, offspring of their healthy parents, that will not bloom for another year or two? In the end I planted them in an empty pot, and will decide what to do with them later. Never decide today what can be decided tomorrow.

Then I turned upside down the pot that houses the Dunyazade lilies. Also very happy, but I felt they might want some fresh soil. Gingerly I loosened their roots, and avoided these delicate, juicy shoots. Snap one and there goes your lily for the year.

Confession: I have never really liked these lilies. I keep them because they are utterly reliable, bloom later than everything else and are beautiful if observed close up and in minute detail, rather than 'entier'. Isolate and frame several square inches and you see their stripes of brilliant green, pink and white and every raised stipple on their petals. Pointillism in 3D. At night sweet, clear nectar drips lasciviously from their throats. OK - I've just talked myself back into liking them.

Oh! Maybe one of the big lily bulbs was the yellow one. Heavens. See, I forgot.


  1. I have been following your blog for a little while, so I thought I would say hello!

    I too have been re-potting all my lilies and have just potted all the "baby" ones on. I do have a little more space than you, so I'm not faced with the decision to have to give them away!

  2. Hi Anne - thanks for saying hello...Baby lilies: give them away or fry them up :-)


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