HELEN LANG: Gorgeous lillies in bloom

Clusters of buds provide a floral mystery to be uncovered

Ah, Lilies. How I love them. All the way from what we used to call Easter lilies (that I now know are actually erithronium (ain’t education wonderful?) to the marvelous, dramatic Asiatics — some of them actually perfumed, as well as being gorgeous.

There is one white one flowering on the balcony right now (no perfume, but who cares. It is so lovely, it doesn’t need any help). There are three flowers, in a cluster, each four inches across on a sturdy stem four feet tall. It stands so proudly but the wind a couple of nights ago toppled it over. Happily nothing got broken and now I have it firmly settled between two larger pots so it should be safe.

When we were on Melissa Street I had some beauties, two of them seven feet tall, but that was their first year. From then on they never reached such an exalted height (probably not enough fertilizer or maybe too much shade). There are two other pots of lilies just in bud but these aren’t as dramatic. One pot contains what we used to call Tiger lilies, but there is one other which is going to be interesting as I have no idea what it may be.

Clusters of buds on four foot stems. I love a mystery and will be watching this one with interest.

Then there is the pot of potatoes, one of carrots and a big pot full of green peas now in bloom. I’ll be out there with my magic, soft, make-up brush to attempt pollination as there are still no bees. I don’t blame them, there isn’t anything strongly perfumed to attract them and this is probably a good thing. Bees don’t belong downtown … lots of cars and trucks and motorbikes, exhaust fumes instead of the sweet smell of flowers. So it’s the makeup brush instead of those noisy, fuzzy, little gardeners’ friends.

David and Annie took me to visit Mary M. and her husband Bruce. She is the lass with the wonderful garden whose husband, just like my Jim, enjoys the results but has no desire to get involved.

The first thing you see as you park in their driveway are tall, white peonies planted in a circle around a small tree. They look like ballet dancers in white tutus doing Swan Lake to a soundless orchestra. Magic!

Actually the whole garden is full of magic scenes, such as the tumble of small copper-coloured bells in the corner of a flower bed. I had to call Mary to identify them and they have the amazing name, Rhodochiton.

Those of us not familiar with such classy titles, can call them purple bells and they are delightful. Of course I want some.

But there just isn’t room for all the things I desire, so I must learn not to be greedy and be content enjoying other people’s gardening successes.

I’ll have to make an honest effort but I fear it isn’t going to be easy. But I gotta’ try!

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.