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The Easter Lily: Legends & More

Inspiration Line Online Magazine - Easter Lilies

Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Ancient fables tell us the lily sprang from the milk of Hera, the mythological Queen of Heaven. Roman mythology links the lily to Juno, queen of the gods. Legend has it that while Juno was nursing her son, Hercules, her excess milk fell from the sky. Some of this milk remained above the earth to form the stars; the rest fell to earth and turned into lilies. In early Christian art, the lily was a symbol of purity because of its delicacy of form and its snow white color. Biblical legend tells us that the lily flower came from Eve's tears when she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden.

The Easter Lily (Lilium longiforum) is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, as well as the islands of Okinawa, Amani, and Erabu. Although Easter lilies came to England in 1819, commercial bulb production initially started in Bermuda in 1853. The Bermuda lily industry was devastated in 1898 by a virus infestation. Around the turn of the century, the Japanese took over the annual growing and exportation of Easter Lilies to the United States, and continued to dominate the U. S. export market until the start of World War II.

Current U. S. production began with a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, who brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to the South coast of Oregon in 1919. Houghton freely distributed bulbs to his horticultural friends and neighbors. With World War II, the Japanese source of bulbs was abruptly cut off. As a result, the value of lily bulbs sky-rocketed and many who were growing the lilies as a hobby decided to go into business. The Easter Lily bulbs at that time were called "White Gold," and growers everywhere attempted to cash in on the crop. By 1945, there were about 1,200 growers producing bulbs up and down the Pacific coast, from Vancouver, Canada to Long Beach, California

This lily is the traditional flower of spring and is highly regarded as a joyful symbol of beauty, hope, and life. Each holiday is marked by cherished traditions that bring joy, comfort, and warmth, and provide continuity from one generation to the next. Easter has its share of traditions: egg decorations and hunts; gift baskets and chocolate bunnies, sunrise church services, parades, and, of course, the Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life — the spiritual essence of Easter.

CARING FOR YOUR LILY INDOORS:
Given the right conditions, your Easter lily should last several weeks in your office or home.
Set your lily in moderate (bright but indirect) sunlight.
Avoid placing your lily near drafts, excess heat, or dry air from appliances, fireplaces, or heating ducts.
Keep in a relatively cool environment, around 68°F (21°C).
Lilies thrive in reasonably moist, well-drained soil. Watering every other day should do the trick.
If your lily is wrapped in foil, make sure the plant is not left standing in excess water.
Remove the anthers (yellow pollen-releasing structures) from the center of the flowers.
Remove individual flowers as they fade.

PLANTING YOUR LILY OUTDOORS:
Once the lily starts to whither, consider planting it in your garden.
Keep your lily in moderate sunlight and water it when it becomes somewhat dry.
When the temperature is mild enough, choose a sunny spot in your garden to plant the bulb.
Make sure the spot is safe from high winds.
Take the plant from its original container and loosen the roots.
Plant the bulb 3-5 inches deeper than it was in its container and cover with soil.
Water generously and fertilize with an all-purpose garden fertilizer.
The lily's old shoots — stems — will wither and die soon after planting.
Watch for new flowers in late July or August.

Plants that are Poisonous to Pets

~ Important Warnings for Pet Owners ~

As spring approaches, lilies will become more common in households as potted plants or in bouquets. Unfortunately, several types of lilies can be deadly to cats. Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily, some species of day lily, and certain other members of the Liliaceae family can cause kidney failure in cats. (So far, toxicity has not been reported in dogs.) Eating just one leaf of this toxic plant can result in severe poisoning and within a short time your cat will exhibit signs of toxicity. Minutes to hours after ingestion, your cat may stop eating and begin vomiting. As the toxins begin to affect the kidneys, your pet may become lethargic, and within five days, kidney failure will cause death. If you suspect your cat has eaten part of a lily plant, it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately. If treatment is started early, chances for recovery are good, but once the kidneys have been severely affected, your cat may not survive. Obviously, the best prevention of lily toxicity is to keep the plants away from your kitty. If you bring Easter lilies into the house, keep them in a separate room where your nibbling cat cannot enter. To help educate cat owners about the dangers of lilies, and other plants, the CFA and the ASPCA have developed website information for cat owners. Among the site's materials are Ten Tips for a Poison-Safe Household and Potpourri: Hazard to Cats.

Many of us look forward to the excitement of Easter festivities, but there are Holiday Hazards that can mean danger for your pets. Like children, cats and dogs love to nibble on goodies in the Easter basket. Unfortunately, our curious pets enjoy everything in the basket, even the colorful plastic grass, toys and foil-wrappers on candies. Your pet may also ingest ribbons, bows, streamers and other decorative items — even ribbons and bows tied around their necks. Don’t be tempted to decorate your puppy or kitty; they don’t enjoy it and it may result in choking or strangulation. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something that may not pass through his intestinal tract, contact your veterinarian. Waiting until your dog or cat starts to vomit will make removal of the object more difficult and costly. Also, if you notice a sudden loss of appetite, vomiting, excessive drooling or abnormal bowel movements, consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Did you know that chocolate can poison your pet? Chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs, and depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. White chocolate has the least amount of stimulants and baking chocolate has the highest. Once toxic levels are eaten, you may notice restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination, and excessive panting. The high fat content in chocolate can also cause vomiting and diarrhea. Make sure that chocolate is kept in a safe place. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, consult your veterinarian immediately. Animals treated for chocolate toxicity generally recover and return to normal within 24 to 48 hours.

From ... www.Florists.FTD.com and PetPlace.com

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This publication originates in Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 U.S.A.

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