Sarah Coles

Enchanter’s Gift

Henry’s Lily, or Lilium henryi 

I am devoted to this lily.  The flowers bloom in a cascade and sway in the breeze like a flaming corps de ballet.   This enchanting creature has thirty or so blooms on a single stem, and comes up every year without fail.  Like all good flowers, it looks great from a distance, as well as bearing intimate inspection.  Each bloom is covered with pimples called papillae, and its delicate orange shade turns to green at the throat.  What is the purpose of these whiskery papillae?  Maybe to intrigue insects as much as me.  We have minute papillae on the tongue to increase our taste and scour our mouths. Maybe to brush pollen from the legs of visiting insects.  The anthers are thick with pollen which stains everything it touches.  They are like tiny gingery boats or pixy bootees suspended from arching filaments.

In my dry chalky soil, this lily needs no watering, ever, and even seems to increase.   It brightens dull August and is utterly hardy.  It likes the sun but can cope with a degree of shade.  It should be named something far more exotic than Lilium henryi or Henry’s lily.  I’ll call it Enchanter’s Gift. 





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