Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From little things big things grow

"You're not going through with this thing?" Geoffrey asked in a not particularly encouraging way. "Maybe, maybe not" I said, trying to sound inscrutable and wise, while secretly feeling just a little bit foolish. What prompted his doubts was my success in getting some Gymea lily seeds to come up. Yippeee! But Geoffrey is right in a sense. It will take this plant eight years to flower, and as he pointed out "It's an enormous plant, where will you put the thing?" What do you mean 'an enormous plant?', I have three of them! They'll be three enormous plants. As the great song by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody says: "From little things, big things grow..."

Here's the reason for all the excitement. A baby Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa). I sowed the seeds back on February 25 and blogged about it here. The first glimmer of success appeared last week, roughly seven weeks after sowing.

I had no idea how deep to plant the seeds, so I sowed six pots: two with seeds almost sitting on the soil surface, covered by a scant 1mm depth of potting mix, two with seeds about 6mm deep, and two with seeds about 12-15mm deep. It turns out the shallow option is the way to go. In this photo, the seed on the right has come to attention, pushed up by the teeniest, tinyest little white shoot underneath.

Since the first guy came up, two more have done the same, and they seem to be growing well so far. So that means one of the 6mm deep seeds has also made it to the surface.

Not that I'm blaming her, but it's all Pam's fault. She brought this seed pod home from one of her botanical illustrating courses and casually suggested I might have a go at growing them. The chances of me saying "oh no, I couldn't possibly do that" were zero, zilch, nil. Not a chance, baby. But I have shocked myself by actually getting the things to grow. Seed-raising is always such a fresh, new thrill, each and every time.

This is the bit where Sensible Geoffrey does have a point. That clump of spiky leaves (in a local park) is about 1.5m tall, and the flower stems often reach 3m tall, and the biggies go to 5m or more. And did I mention that with seed-raised plants you have to wait eight years for flowers? These plants won't be flowering for another month or three, as a huge flower head 30-40cm across, chockers with lilies and nectar, is yet to form atop the stalks.

Fortunately, there's no rush with my seedlings. It's not as if they're going to become unmanageably huge this year, or even next. Maybe even sometime soon I'll come across a friend with a large, bare garden who wistfully says they'd love at least three enormous clumps of spiky leaves topped by three-metre-tall giant lilies. People are often saying things like that, aren't they? Whatever, the seeds are up, I am aglow with delight, and I have time on my hands until the troubles begin.


Kerry said...

It's a bit like having a baby really. Such a long time to develop and then, all that nurturing, and wollop...huge humans that take over your world!!

Jamie said...

I agree, Kerry. All that gurgling and cuteness and helplessness is just Stage One of their cunning plan...

Chookie said...

I always think Gymea lilies are wonderful for people with two-storey houses, because you'd get a good view of the flower-head from a balcony. No good for me, though!

Lisha said...

Is there an update on how your little seedlings have grown? Great pictures- can you believe this is the only place on the net I've been able to find good images and explanations of the seeds/seed pod...thanks for making it available :-D

Jamie said...


Sadly, while on our 8-week trip driving across America, the seedlings were one of the victims of either a storm, a cat knocking them over, or some other mishap. It's all my fault. I should have given them to someone to protect, but in the rush to go on the trip, I forgot, and have now paid the price.