The future’s bright for NI centenary celebrations

Fears that the NI Protocol regulations would prevent the importation of orange lily bulbs for the Northern Ireland centenary celebrations have dissipated with the arrival of 150,000 of them ready for April planting.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:03 pm
Grand Master Edward Stevenson, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, and deputy grand master Harold Henning pictured in 2016 when they launched an Orange lily planting initiative to commemorate the Somme centenary. Photo: Gary Gardiner.

The bulbs have been purchased by the Orange Order as part of an initiative to brighten up large swathes of the Province in time for the July festivities.

The organising committee hopes that thousands of planters and window boxes will be blooming bright, creating an “exciting visual celebration of Northern Ireland’s one hundredth birthday”.

Steps were taken towards the end of last year to import the orange lily bulbs directly from Holland, avoiding the difficulties being experienced by anyone shipping plants and vegetables – or anything likely to contain soil – in NI from Great Britain.

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An organising committee spokesman said: “We brought them in directly from Holland so they didn’t come through GB – it was all organised through a local florist.

“We had more of an issue with the packaging but we managed to get that sorted okay and the bulbs have arrived no problem.”

The last time a similar Grand Lodge initiative took place was in 2016 for the Battle of the Somme centenary commemorations.

Then, Orange lodge members across Northern Ireland volunteered to pack the bulbs ready for dispatch to thousands of green-fingered Orange lily fans.

Once again, brethren have assembled to bag and label the packs of six bulbs – complete with growing instructions.

Organising committee chairman Robert Cummings said: “We aim to have flower beds, patios, flowerpots and window boxes across the Province bedecked with orange lilies in celebration of Northern Ireland’s first 100 years.

“Recipients are encouraged to plant the bulbs in early April so that blooming corresponds with the July celebrations.

“This is a great opportunity to encourage our supporters - family, friends and community - to purchase the bulbs and become involved in a visual display.”

Mr Cummings added: “We expect the lilies will be planted throughout the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions, including the border counties of the Republic of Ireland and interest has been received from as far afield as Canada.”

Orange lilies can be ordered through district and private lodges (£5 for six bulbs) by emailing [email protected]

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