Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hard Work

Aren't these flowers pretty? Just to let you know I didn't take these pictures but I got them from this web site on Crinums---which is the type of plant/bulb this is a picture of. My plant looks similar to the picture on the right---the striped one commonly known as "milk and wine" lily and it is the subject of this post.

The reason I titled this "hard work" is because today was the day to move my crinum. I have had my plant for a very long time, bringing it from Texas with me many years ago. It was originally given to me by an older neighbor while living there in our first home. My neighbor was a very kind older lady (her 79 to my 23) and she taught me much about gardening---peonies, poppies and greens to eat for starters--- and many other "things" that people of that age know. Luckily for me---she was mainly an organic gardener (to my completely organic) so I learned much from her. She also had the best compost pile ever----I still have never been able to equal the quality or quickness of hers.

Anyway, when we first moved to this house we planted the crinum lily---many times moved with us to each new home--- in what had lately become a inconvenient location. After a number of years living here,developing a garden and fencing----we found we had positioned the crinum in a difficult to navigate location. Constantly we were trying to mow around it---stuck out in the middle so to speak---and not chew off it's immensely long leaves. The leaves on my particular crinum can get about 6 feet long. They are strappy 6 foot leaves too----flopping all over the place like extra large noodles. Needless to say it needed to be moved ---however as I said previously: we procrastinated about it.

Why? Because the longer a crinum is ensconced in it's location---the harder it is to remove it. The bulbs grow very large---some as big as a bowling ball if left long enough AND they seem to navigate downwards the longer they are there. Also, they are very soft, fleshy bulbs---easily torn or squooshed so you have to be careful or you will rip them apart into a gelatinous mess (yes I have done that once).

So, to begin the removal I started with a set of post hole diggers. I dug 5 post holes each about a foot deep around 3/4 of the plant. Then, I connected all the post holes and chipped away the dirt so that I could see some of the main bulbs (and baby bulbs that had since grown up). Then I took my trusty shovel to the side without a hole and jumped and stomped until my shovel was buried. I then pried that "sucker" right out of the hole----were upon it fell over into the trench I had dug on the opposite side. Excellent! Actually the easiest removal I have done of it----practice makes perfect aye?

I then pried it into two pieces being careful not to tear up all the bulbs. As long as about half remains and some of the root section on it, it will do fine. I then replanted it along the fence to my garden. Voila! completely out of the way now.

Happily---my crinum does very well for me. Hardy at least to zone 6 and in some sheltered places to zone 5 they are quite the site once established. Here is an excellent article in Southern Living magazine with pictures too. You can sometimes see them in old home and farm yards ---they were immensely popular in the 40's and 50's. Probably because of their more "florida/tropical look" which was very popular then.
Crinums are beautiful, hardy, smell awesome and have blooms that are HUGE. Try them out if you can---you won't be disappointed at all. Yes, they are a bit expensive to start with but well well worth it. And as the gentlemen in the Southern Living article says "No crinum has ever died"---I'd say that pretty much sums up the ease of growing them.


Katie said...

So very lovely, sadly I don't think they'd do well here in my zone 3 garden...

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Hi Monica!
The appliance of science: what an innovative way of solving your problem, you've turned into a plant archaeologist.
Happy memories evoked, when you stop to admire it or smell its blooms, of your inspirational neighbour (who I guess has moved on by now). I had some mint that I'd taken from my maternal grandmother's garden and planted in various gardens where I've lived since and then used to make mint sauce. I have very happy memories of being in the kitchen with her and being allowed, as a young child, to use the huge sharp kitchen knife to chop up the leaves, adding sugar and vinegar and scraping it into a mush, taste-testing until it was done. That original mint has gone now but it doesn't seem to matter anymore, as any mint now always reminds me of my granny.
If you don't know of mint sauce in the US, our French neighbours certainly don't, it's used as a condiment on roast lamb ... yum!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Katie--so sorry you are too cold for them and I heard that they get way way to big for a pot (which I can believe!) They are quite striking. However---I know you have plants I would love to grow--but it's too warm here. Grass is always greener aye? :-)

Stuart and Gabrielle---aahh the smells of plants. Nothing like a smell to pull out some forgotten memory of a person long passed away. I am glad I have these to remind me of her because you are correct---she is passed away now.
Luckily too I didn't kill myself getting them out this time. I must be getting smarter (wiser?) with age :-D