Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A quiet 5 AM here on the mountain as the bright stars of last evening slowly turn off one by one as the sun gives thought of welcoming Easter morn to each of us here on the mountain. Last night was a late one for us but I am still on schedule. It's a different story with Gail and Alex who will slumber on for some time. Karl the Wonder Dog made a brief appearance fifteen minutes ago and then gave a little snort and went back to bed. Even from the office I could Gail mumbling as Karl jumped back on the bed with apparent disregard for where his feet landed.

Flowers at Easter time are a welcome sight but here in Vermont there is often a great disparity depending on when Easter falls and what the late season snows have brought. As I travel around Vermont I notice varying degrees of spring bulb flowers in bloom although here our only entertainment is crocus and so far only purple at that. In a week they will be plentiful but the snow has only melted over some of the gardens this week so bulbs are just now reaching for the sun. As such, we usually rely on potted plants to give us some energy to fight off the final throes of winter.

Lilies are a popular Easter plant and we really enjoy them from our days of growing thousands of lilies here on the mountain. The large white lily known as an Easter lily in America is not the lily from Bibical times but instead a hybrid which fares better with the need to be an adaptable bulb capable of being coerced into early bloom on years like 2009. Variation of light exposure and chemicals are now used to regulate bloom time and height but despite breakthroughs, the variables create a challenge for greenhouse growers. Gail bought a lily two weeks ago and as soon as I looked at the bud formation I questioned what Easter day would look like. This morning there is only one kind of ok flower and the rest are curling and discolored. In contrast I have seen years when public houses from churches to restaurants were lined with pots where bloom had just begun and whispers always included "Easter is late this year isn't it?" When Easter is over, cut the stem back to a couple inches and let those lilies dry out a bit. When the garden warms, plant the bulb(s) and feed and water them with care and perhaps they will rejuvenate and bloom another year. It won't be for Easter but usually sometime in August here in the northeast. The picture up top is an Easter lily I bought many years ago. It arrived with some ants enjoying the sweet nectar.

Growers have expanded the lilies they make available at Easter and the colorful Asiatics are now accompanied by many different lilies. The following one is the trumpet Regale which does well in Vermont. It is a July bloomer when grown in the garden.

A final plant which you might consider as a year round houseplant is Eucharis grandiflorum, the Amazon Lily. In the flower world there are over 250 plants which bear the name "lily" but are not true lilies. This is one of them. It's a zone ten flower so it is a house plant here but one we really cherish. Small starts are usually available in greenhouses and on occasion you'll find an errant shipment of big pots at a box store. Typically no one knows anything about them including the price so that's a good time to pick up several as gifts for gardeners who enjoy house plants.

Without doubt you can purchase potted tulips in all kinds of colors, some tipsy hyacinths with great fragrance, and pot upon pot of daffodils or mixes of spring bulbs. These are always a good bet as an Easter present for a senior friend and they're sure to conjure up some memorable stories.

Here on the mountain we'll enjoy Easter Day and we hope you do too!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a neighbor reported having to stop yesterday morning just past the intersection of Route 2 and 232 as six moose controlled road access as they made their way down from the mountain tops to summer in the valleys. Use care driving at night as the moose are on the move and they make very poor hood ornaments.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens

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garden girl said...

Beautiful photos George!

Sounds like our weather in Chicago has been similar to yours. It's been a chilly spring so far. Everything's sprouting but growing very slowly with the chilly temperatures, and only hellebores, bulbs, and a few early-blooming shrubs are showing color.

Hope you had a nice Easter!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like our weather in Chicago has been similar to yours.
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Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

Please, please, PLEASE tell me how to get my Amazon lily to BLOOM! I've had several bulbs for about four years now and never a bloom. I go to our local botanical conservatory and drool over the gorgeous blooms there and then come home and look at all my glorious big green leaves with no blooms. HELP!