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Office green fingers: Learning about lilies [#NaBloPoMo Day 23] - YQtravelling

Office green fingers: Learning about lilies [#NaBloPoMo Day 23]

These past months, I had been buying a stalk of lily every fortnight. (I’m taking a pause this week since it’s a short week and I don’t want my flowers to feel lonely in the office.)

Pink lilies.
Pink lilies.

I don’t have a vase so I put the stalk of lily in a empty wine or cider bottle and display them at my desk. People have commented that my lilies have a strong scent. They never elaborate if that’s a good thing or a bad thing so I continue buying them.

I guess I’m so used to the scent that I couldn’t smell anything unless I stick my nose in them.

Experimenting with lilies

Besides displaying the lilies, I had been doing experiments on them. I wanted to know what environment encourages blooming and how water is transported within the plant itself. The experiments have been educational and fun.

Question: Which of these two lilies will bloom faster?

Experiment #1

Answer: The one on the right. Turns out the flower in the smaller jar couldn’t bloom properly because its base was stuck. It started blooming like crazy when I shifted it to a bottle with a longer neck.

Question: How long will it take for me to turn a white lily purple?

Turns out ink gathers at the edges of the petals.
Turns out ink gathers at the edges of the petals.

Answer: Too damn long.

A “bouquet of fleeting beauty”

One of New York Times’ Modern Love column title describes what I feel about flowers a “bouquet of fleeting beauty“. I think it’s because of their short lifetime that makes me appreciate fresh flowers more than plastic ones.

Yes, I’m sad when the flowers wilt and die. But I believe that the flowers were glad to have died after a period of being admired.

When the flowers wilt artistically, I celebrate it by taking photographs too. It might sound morbid but it’s not easy being beautiful even after death.

Not exactly a lily but it wilted quite prettily.
Not exactly a lily but it wilted quite prettily.

How I started the habit of buying flowers

Lilies became my favorite flowers after a disastrous date. When the date ended, I felt really miserable. I kicked myself for setting it up in the first place and walked lethargically to the bus stop.

Being mopey wasn’t helpful so I decided to cheer myself up and buy some flowers. Everyone deserves flowers, especially me at that point.

I went to the first florist stall I saw. The middle-aged motherly stall owner smiled and greeted me.

– What would you like to buy?
– What would you suggest for someone who’s buying flowers for themselves?
– … That would depend on what they like.
– Well, I don’t want roses [since they’re a symbol of romance]. What’s the most fragrant flowers you have?
– You can get lilies, we have very nice ones like these yellow ones which just came in.

I paused. At that point, I’ve never liked lilies. They were too feminine with their soft petals and overpowering scent.

But I thought I should give it a try. I bought three stalks at the price of S$10 and brought them home. Cradling them on the bus, I realized that the scent was less harsh than I thought.

I kept them in my room and found that they perfumed everything from my pillow case to my towels. I started liking them a lot more.

When the first batch died, I head over to the market near my workplace to find more flowers. I settled on lilies again.

Slowly, lilies became my favorite flowers. I would buy a stalk every two weeks. I have many types to choose from ones with white tissue-like petals, fuchsia-colored ones, or soft-pink with brown spots that would fade as they bloom.

I have a weakness for the type that I first bought–the ones with white petals and a yellow center.

My first lilies
My first lilies

I’ll probably stop buying flowers for the rest of the year because of the short work week. Maybe next year I’ll find another type of flowers to experiment with.


More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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