Repost: Lily’s Grand Opening


I’m still in South Florida and while here, I’m thinking of there — my Long Island garden.  Before Joe and I left, the bud of my Stargazer Lily was setting itself up to bloom.  I just know that by now, nearly two weeks since we left, I missed Lily’s grand opening — and divas hate that.  So in an effort to make amends with Lily, I offer you this repost.

The stars are ageless, aren’t they?

Let me first begin by saying that this is not the post that I had planned — but some plants tend to be divas. My initial idea was to give you a “Bloomin’ Update,” with a series of photos documenting the opening of a lily. My one and only lily that hasn’t been seen in years. To use a film reference, this lily is my very own Norma Desmond of Sunset Boulevard fame.

This post actually began long ago, well before there was a blog. I had planted three lilies in what I will call the perennial garden. In fact, the perennial garden was really my first attempt at gardening, and I felt the need to fill it with as many flowers as I could order, purchase, find, borrow, root. There was really no rhyme or reason. Regardless, the lilies bloomed beautifully, but their perfume was overpowering. At times, I wasn’t sure if I was smelling my yard or the funeral home that backs against the woods behind my property.

Eventually, I decided to convert the perennial bed into something more formal: my version of a knot garden. The lilies had to go. I dug them, at the wrong time of year, and planted them on the other side of the yard. And that’s where the plants have stayed for approximately 4 years. Three leafy stalks have appeared each year, but never a bloom.

Waiting for the grand opening.

At least not until this year, when I spotted a bud at the end of one of the stalks. Ms. Desmond, it seemed, was ready to make a comeback.

“I hate that word,” I imagined the lily would say, paraphrasing from the classic film. “It’s a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the garden.”

I felt giddy inside. Within seconds, I became a lily stalker, promising myself that I would sit in the same spot everyday, at the same time, and snap a photo to document the opening. The first photo was of the elongated bud, pale pink blushing through the white exterior. It had been so long since I had seen the flower, that I forgot how it would look, but I remember that it used to be big.

“I am big,” summed up the flower, “it’s the garden that got small.”

On Day 2, the flower remained closed. Clearly, the lily was in no hurry to meet her public.

Tah – dah!

Only two days into my documenting her appearance, the lily opened fully — overnight! All that planning and hoping, and I was actually asleep for the grand opening. In fact, it happened so quickly, that I could have sat in front of the plant and literally watched the bloom explode across the garden stage.

Years ago, “Saturday Night Live” alumna Julia Sweeney wrote a book called God Said, “Ha!”. I believe Mother Nature just said the same thing to me. Although I’m disappointed that I missed the opening, I have to say the show is stunning and has been well worth the wait. I’m already looking forward to next season’s appearance, and bracing Joe that I may be pulling a few all nighters to get that first photo.

How can I be so sure that the lily isn’t just toying with me? That she will make a return in growing seasons to come? I have her word.

“I promise you I’ll never desert you again, because after this season, I’ll make another bloom and another. You see, this is my life. It always will be. Nothing else. Just us, the camera, and those wonderful people out there in the garden. All right, Mr. Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, I’m ready for my close-up.”

And now, are all of you ready for your close-up?  It’s time to get your creative juices flowing for the next post. At that time, Joe and I will be driving home and I will be out of Internet range, so I am leaving the post writing to all of you. Simply put, there will be an amusing photo just begging for a caption. And that’s where all of you (and your friends and families and strangers) come in. Just comment your caption. This isn’t a contest — it’s just a chance to make others smile and maybe even laugh out loud.  See you soon!

16 thoughts on “Repost: Lily’s Grand Opening

  1. I’m impressed with your idea of photographing the opening of a flower, it sounds hard to do, but so fun to be there in the moment! My favorite lily is my Casa Blanca with pure white flowers.
    Elaine

  2. My divas are trumpet lilies African Queen. I have several scattered in the garden and when they bloom it’s such a royal party, all those queens. The parfume could be somehow disturbing to me too, too strong.

  3. Hope you are having a wonderful time in Fla. Have a safe trip back. As far as gardening goes, the rabbits are eating ALL of the blossoms off ALL I planted. I had been blaming the deer until I caught the sunrise snackers in action. (Truth be told, they are really cute munching away.)

    • Hi Michele! Florida is great. I haven’t seen rabbits here — other creatures, but no rabbits. It would be great if you could plant a bed just for rabbits and get them to understand that it’s for them, and the other beds are for you. 🙂

  4. How do you do it Kevin? I know you are missing your garden and then when you are home you have to miss your Florida garden. LOL! Are you a nervous wreck? LOL!

    • I wouldn’t say I’m a nervous wreck — yet. But I’m starting to get itchy and wondering how much work there will be when I return to the home garden. 🙂

  5. I hope Lily won’t be too mad at you when you get home…maybe she’ll still perform a bit! The Norma Desmond tie-in is just fabulously clever! Enjoy the last of your time in Florida before returning home…I’m sure your garden will be very glad to see you home again, though! Debra

    • Hi Debra. I’m expecting that Norma will give me the cold shoulder — and I’m not too sure about the rest of the garden. I have a feeling it’s a bit overgrown, weedy, in need of staking, etc. I’m shaking just thinking about it. 🙂

  6. Kevin, I learned an important lesson many years ago from a botanist friend of mine — very fragrant flowers often bloom at night. Apparently, this is because their primary pollinators are night-flying moths who find the nectar they are seeking by following the scent rather than by looking for the kinds of bright color patterns that attract daytime pollinators like bees. Many of my fragrant daylilies begin to open just a tiny bit in late afternoon and then are fully open when I get up in the morning. I guess next year, you’ll have to camp out with a tripod and good flash to catch your diva in the act.

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