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Ogdensburg man’s Easter lilies confuse warm fall for July

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OGDENSBURG — Joseph M. Cosentino woke up on Thursday’s warm fall morning to a traditional sign of mid-summer when he stepped into the garden at his 612 Lee Road home.

“Five Easter lilies have sprouted up,” he said. “When I tell people, they don’t believe me.”

According to Paul J. Hetzler, horticulture and natural resource educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, Mr. Cosentino’s garden contains a rare sight. Easter lilies normally bloom in July in U.S. Department of Agricultre hardiness zones 4 and 5, which account for most of New York state.

“If an Easter lily is put into a flower bed at late summer or fall, then it is not rare. However, if it’s a bulb that has been planted years ago, and has bloomed for years in July, that is rare,” he said.

Mr. Cosentino said two of the lilies were planted “too many years ago to count.”

The other three that sprouted were planted in early spring and bloomed shortly afterward, Mr. Cosentino said.

“United Helpers asked me if I would like to take the bulbs home, so I said ‘sure,’” he said. “They were going to throw them away.”

The ideal conditions for lilies to grow would be in “very humid and hearty soil environment,” Mr. Hetzler said. “As long as they are planted six inches in the ground and the bulbs are hearty, they will spring up shoots every year.”

Warmer temperatures this autumn have meant that many plants are producing a second crop, Mr. Hetzler said.

“Raspberries are not supposed to be producing a second round of fruit, but they are,” he said. “They usually disappear after the first serious frost or a few light frosts, depending where you are located.”

Mr. Cosentino said he will care for his rare lilies for as long as the weather continues to cooperate.

“These flowers are like me; they never give up,” he said.

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