Duncan – The following is an open letter to the person(s) responsible for jacking some wild white “Easter lilies” from the side of a trail in a certain municipal forest: I don’t think you were doing anything illegal, but it was kind of inconsiderate. In your quest for the pretty lilies, you made a mess that I had to clean up.
Your careless digging method damaged the young lily plants there. Not only that, you took from a tiny patch of lilies. There are literally dozens of places where they are plentiful where you could have dug some up without affecting the population – or without anybody caring – including in that very forest, if you looked hard enough. Why take them from a spot where there are hardly any there? That’s bad for biodiversity.
It was also foolish to take blooming lilies. Larger plants, particularly those with flowers attached, have deeper corms and are more easily damaged in digging and transport than smaller, younger plants with single leaves.
Those lilies, unless picked, only bloom every seven years, because it takes that long for a seedling to mature, and also how long it takes the corm to recover after producing seeds.
If you’re an older person, that’s a long time and you won’t get to enjoy them very often unless you pick them every year, including this year.
It would have been better, and made much less of a mess, to take younger plants whose bulbs are not so deep in the soil. They can be removed with minimal disturbance, have a greater chance of surviving transplanting, and will bloom sooner than the ones you took.
Besides, though you had no way of knowing this, I had planted some of those lilies.
One had been there for many years, but with no neighbours to pollinate with, it had no chance to reproduce. Only after I had gotten several as a gift from a friend about 20 years ago and decided the best place was in the woods rather than the garden, were there any seedlings around it.
In fact, not far from that spot, literally a few steps away, is a section that 20 years ago I had to restore with nearby native plants because it had been severely damaged about 30 years ago by idiots on motorbikes.
I was looking forward to looking at those lilies bloom and taking pictures of them, and was extremely disappointed when I saw the dug up mess, with no attempt made whatsoever to smooth the soil over, and a severed and wilted single lily leaf.
My advice to you is don’t take lilies from that spot again. Other people like to look at them, and you can buy that kind of lily at places like Dinter’s.
Oh and one more thing, learn how to dig. You’re doing it wrong.
April J. Gibson