Last year, I bought some specialist lily bulbs at Gardener’s World Live. They sat in their little brown paper bags for some time – long past planting time – until I finally succumbed to the guilt induced by looking at two sad paper bags of lily bulbs, and finally put them in nice deep, wide pots. Just in time for winter! Derp. So, they sat in their pots all winter, putting out lots of root and not much else (naturally).
This spring, the first shoots appeared from the abyss of barren soil, and I got a little bit excited. I might actually see these lilies flower after all? They have put on growth since March, slowly, endless pushing upwards and outwards until they have filled their pots with countless stems of lush green leaves. They started to look tired around May time, with the leaves turning pale and a bit sickly, and they have been mercilessly attacked by Scarlet Lily Beetle since the first sprouts appeared. My partner took on the thankless task of locating each beetle with deadly precision, and taking them out, one by one. It took about a month to remove all traces of Lily Beetle, including finding their eggs on the undersides of the leaves, and removing them. We also used a couple of doses of organic bug spray. At the same time, I commenced with a weekly liquid feed (Tomorite or Miracle-Gro – either is good).
All traces of Lily Beetle removed, and feed taking effect, the lilies started to look incredibly green and lush once again. Juicy, fat buds started to form at the ends of each stem. Some of these stems have grown to about a metre long! Each day, I briefly inspect each stem, looking to see how far advanced each flower bud is, waiting patiently for one to pop. For the last week, three of the stems on my lily ‘Blackburn’ have been loaded with ever-darkening and ever-expanding buds, all ready to burst. I’ve felt like an expectant father. This morning, this happened.