More than “Just a Lily”

For the past, well, lifetime, I have despised lilies in all sizes, shapes, colors, varieties, and floral arrangements.  No, I’m not allergic to them nor do I have any deeply-seeded intrinsically negative memories of them, and the basic yellow-orange daylily variety can make even the most vacant highway stretch look quite lovely.  As a child, I remember the daylily as standard fare to liven up any residential landscape, and now I know that they are sublimely easy to maintain, hence the seeming ubiquity in the Chicago suburbs.

Years ago (I feel odd writing that at age 31), I visited my shut-in, elderly great aunt M—- for my regular Saturday visitation, and April straight through October she would rail (yes, actually “rail”, shaking her fist in the air) about how much she hated those “damn daylilies”.  Seeing as the only other landscaping around her garage was an overgrown yucca and she couldn’t actually view her garage from her house windows, I could never understand why she hated them so very much.

Her last Spring in that home, my brother T—- and I decided to get rid of the daylilies by weed-whacking them to the ground.  This kept Aunt M—- happy for a week, but those pesky daylilies  were sprouting new foliage soon enough.  The next week, we used Round-Up weed killer; again, this was highly effective for maybe two weeks, but then  like the cat who came back . . .  Round-Up again to no avail.  So T—- proposed any idea that, gasp! any gardener would cringe at: “Let’s ‘salt the earth’.”  And, yes, we did actually buy a large container of salt, which combined with the Summer heat at that time, did indeed dampen their little daylily spirits for a while–or at least until the Autumn.  After spending now months trying so desperately to destroy these happy plants, we were done.  No, we were not going to dig out every last bulb as Aunt M—- suggested with a poke.

And, that ended her final Summer in her home of 50+ years, as her body could not handle living alone any longer despite much protest.  I’ve considered planting a daylily in my garden as a remembrance to Aunt M—- as I think of her every time I see them blooming on some cityscape median,  but she would look at this is as the ultimate betrayal: the dalylily won!

Maybe she was slowly poisoning my mind as a child against the daylily, as I myself have this hatred of them.  This year, I planted stargazer lilies, which are far more elegant than their bucolic relations; when I look at them, I still see Aunt M—- with fire in her eyes, “Those damn daylilies!”


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