While I was listening intently to Melinda Myers show me how to spruce up the small spaces in my garden at the Proven Winners Outdoor Living Extravaganza in Milwaukee last Friday, my husband was putting in a frantic call to me. At the lunch break, I listened to his message and as he whined and complained his way through it, I got more and more amused.
"I opened the utility room door this morning and you would NOT believe the SMELL in there!! I thought maybe one of the cats made a mess, but it doesn't quite smell like that. Is it one of your plants??"
At first I couldn't imagine what it was and then I remembered the voodoo lilies I'd planted up a couple of weeks before. I'd bought the bulbs at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show - three of them - and a couple of weeks ago, I noticed them shooting out of the bulbs while still in the plastic bag. In fact, one of them was nearly a foot tall already!
When I got home, Romie had banished the voodoos to the conservatory and asked me to go out there and smell them. He wanted to know exactly what I thought they smelled like.
Two words: cow manure.
I'm no stranger to that smell, and it took me back to the days on my grandparents farm. I was transported to the big white barn, with its resident kitties, smelling of straw and... cow manure. While those memories are nothing but pleasant, the voodoo lily fragrance isn't. But there's a method to God's madness.
The voodoo lily, like many of its relatives, emits an odor when it blooms that some say smells like rotting flesh. Not having had that sensory experience, I can't say, but the smell attracts flies, its main pollinators.
There are several varieties of voodoo lilies, but I believe mine to be Typhonium venosum. It's only supposed to be hardy to zone 6, but being in zone 5b, I'll risk it outside. I've now planted them out, in a very protected location on the east side, right next to the house. I might lift one of them this fall, just in case, but I'll mulch well and hope for the best for the other two.
Gardening is very much a sensory experience. In spite of the rank odor these things put out, I'm happy to have them, because it's things like this that spice up my gardening life. Yeah, that's it. Spicy.