Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lilies and Bird Visitors

Saturday, February 24, 2007

3 degrees above zero this morning with a wind that penetrates two layers of Polar Fleece as if it wasn't there. Some light snow has begun to fall, an apparent sign to the birds to get started on their breakfast buffet a little early today. I bought some more suet on Wednesday but then couldn't find any more onion bags. I save them all year for the purpose of hanging up the suet. The one chunk I placed on the platform feeder a week back is about pecked through and needs replacing as this cold weather continues.

Deep snows change the availability of certain foods and you tend to see birds that aren't often present. The Burlington Free Press had an article yesterday about the tufted titmouse. I have been on the lookout for these birds as they showed up last year about now. They are kind of neat little birds, a tad bigger than a chickadee. I'm also waiting for snowy owls. I haven't seen one here in a number of years but with the heavy snows up north, there's an improved chance they may be down soon.

I keep telling myself to put on the snowshoes and make a nice trail along the woodline of the back fields so I can travel at night. After burying myself to the waist the other day and freeing myself just before a ton of snow came off the roof, I have been reluctant to put myself in a similar situation. A couple years back I was snowshoeing through some balsams above Peacham Pond. I hadn't been there before and didn't know I was walking on top of 6-8-10 foot balsams covered with snow. When I broke through I was in a very precarious position and have to say I had an uncomfortable fear before I got out of that mess. Ski poles lend good support in deep snow but you still have to pay attention to where you are.

Yesterday The Lily Garden catalog arrived in the mailbox. I just can't say enough about the owners, Judith Freeman and her daughter, Catherine van der Salm. Their catalog originates from Vancouver, Washington over the Oregon border a bit from Portland and the growing fields are in adjacent Brush Prairie, WA. I had a chance to visit them last June with the Pacific Northwest Lily Society and the visit is well set in my memory. That part is good because my son Adam managed to move all the pictures I took into space somewhere near Neptune or dwarf planet Pluto, never to be seen again.

There are a number of lily growers out there but The Lily Garden is a good place to stick with. If you want mass plantings of solid colors, there are many places to buy in quantity and meet your goal. For smaller groups of newly released or just plain special lilies, think about TLG. The next three lily pictures are Alchemy, Caravan and Golden Stargazer. They represent the diversity that's out there right now. One that I absolutely love is named Conca d'Or. I can't find the picture right now but if you want a really special lily, purchase this one. The flowers are gigantic lemon yellow with a creamy white edge and at the end of the season you have to find someone with a chainsaw to cut the thing down. Ours is about 4.5 feet tall and a couple years back Gail actually cut the stem off and brought it in the house because it was easier than telling every single customer we didn't have any for sale.

If you're shopping for lilies, a few more names to remember are Arabesque, Sarabande, Leslie Woodriff, Luminaries, Scheherazade, Pizzazz, and Silk Road. Over the past twenty years we have grown thousands upon thousands of lilies here at Vermont Flower Farm amounting to hundreds of names. I only wish I had taken pictures of every one over the years but there's only so much time in the day. And on that note, I have to get back to one more order--this time hostas and peonies from Wisconsin.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where six mourning doves came from who knows where to compete with the grosbeaks for corn and small seeds kicked off the feeders by the mess-making blue jays

Your gardening friend,

George Africa


IBOY said...

I always look forward to that sunny day in earliest spring, when the tufted titmice start their Peter-Peter call from the tops of the tall trees.

Carol said...

Wow, those lilies are beautiful, especially that first pink one. I've not grown many lilies before, I'll have to do some further investigation. Wonderful post, as always.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I've wanted 'Caravan' for a while... and now that I see all of your beautiful pictures I have even more lilies on my list.