Second, she’s selling varieties striking enough for the cut flower market that may not yet be available to home gardeners. (Make sure you scroll down her long webpage to see all the amazing choices.) Martin mentions ‘Mero Star,’ which has flowers a foot across, and ‘Dynamite,’ a true bright red Oriental.
So, the question is, are Martin’s bulb’s weaker because they’ve been harvested once? This is an issue, because in real gardens, lilies often dwindle away after a few years.
"They’re harvested in such a way," says Tracey, "that there is stem left on the bulb." Martin says that even their first year, they will produce from one to three blooms–and then, if conditions are right, they’ll rebuild themselves and get bigger and better.
"Orientals really like acidic soil," she explains. "Lilies don’t like clay, period. Or pure sand–they need some organic matter."
Martin’s bulbs are cheap enough to justify wanton cutting. But if you want to have your cake and eat it too–keep the bulbs strong and still have flowers for your table–she recommends planting a dozen of one variety, and cutting only three or four each year, so each bulb has a few years to rebuild itself between cuttings. "Leave a third of the stalk when you cut, " she adds.
She points out that she has Asiatics in her garden that have been there for sixteen years. And some of her lilies have stems whose circumference is as big as a silver dollar.
The only thing wrong with Martin’s business plan is the fact that she’s not yet shipping to the U.S. However, she expects to soon, and when she does, I not only plan on increasing the number of lilies in my garden from absurd to scary, I’m going to give them away to my neighbors on a Johnny Appleseed-like quest to beautify the country–and make sure everybody can get drunk on lily perfume right in their own backyards.