Colourful life for Mt Somers lily growers

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David Millicamp in his Mt Somers lily field.

If you want a splash of colour in your life there is just one weekend left to visit Lilyfields Mt Somers.

The business that specialises in supplying mail order lily bulbs to the New Zealand market has been run by David and Wendy Millicamp for over 25 years.

The couple moved from Tinwald in 1995 and took over the business from David’s parents.

The bulbs are Dutch in origin, bred for the cut flower market.

As a visitor to the lily fields it seems to be an idyllic lifestyle and David agrees but there are challenges.

“We’ve loved it, we’ve been spoiled, we got the opportunity when my parents retired to give it a go, but there are risks and challenges all the time, the big risk this year has been the weather,” he said.

Government covid settings have also had an impact on the industry with the cancellation of the spring and autumn shows.

As well as the pleasure the flowers bring there are a few other reasons for the popularity of lilies.

“You can get a range of varieties that give you a really good long flowering over summer, from Christmas to the end of February.

“People buy mail order bulbs and put them in their pots or their gardens and away they go, they are pretty easy care plants, that’s the reason they have been so popular.”

Mid Canterbury is the ideal place to grow because the soil is “absolutely brilliant,” David said.

“People don’t realise what a great fertile nation we live in, drainage is the key, we don’t have irrigation here but we have had a wet summer.

“The heat and the bulb growth will kick in in March, we get most of our bulb growth in March.”

The bulbs are then dug in April, packed and posted for customers in May.

“So April and May are big months for us digging and packaging, then all the wholesale orders go out mid to late May,” he said.

The best selling lilies are the Con C Dor with a soft lemon colour and the scented plum Robina.

“Whites are always popular, pinks come and go and we sold a lot of the red Armandale last year.”

David is also a keen propagator and has choice plants in his shade house that are for sale.

The lily field is open to the public this Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4.30pm, visit www.lilyfields.co.nz for more information.

~ By Daniel Tobin