Chinese Sacred Lilies in a vase
Chinese Sacred Lilies in a vase

As we continue to work through our brick patio garden makeover, we also are starting (middle of December) to have heirloom Chinese sacred lily flower bulbs start blooming! If we were to plug this post into our Landscape Design Series, it would fall somewhere in between our “hidden tasks”, “clean up and the remaining mess”, and “hosting during the makeover process”. We had our irrigation installer here yesterday, as it started to sleet, and we had in-laws over for dinner. All the while, Chinese sacred lilies (Narcissus tazetta orientalis) started to bloom (you can read more about them on the product page here). We’re sold of out Chinese sacred lilies as of this December post in 2022, but if you email Audra at she can put you on a list for next fall.

On top of this, a freeze is coming tonight, so if we’re going to enjoy the flowers, I’ll have to cut them and bring them inside today! Here are the alternate titles:

  1. It wasn’t supposed to rain on Friday, much less sleet.
  2. Wait, there’s more brick UNDER your brick?
  3. A project always goes longer than you expect and takes you to dark.
  4. Guess what’s blooming in old gardens right now?!
  5. A freeze is coming. Get ready!

It wasn’t supposed to rain on Friday, much less sleet

Men working on patio

We had postponed installing the irrigation twice, once because I wanted to add to the scope of the project and the 2nd time because of rain. It was supposed to be dry yesterday. Instead, just as my in-laws from California arrived, the sleet came tumbling down, and down, and down. That makes for a long day. The lesson? When you start your own brick patio garden makeover in the winter months, just plan for bad weather!

Wait, there’s more brick UNDER your brick?

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 Close up on bricks

This part falls under the “hidden tasks” section of your landscape project. We simply keep running into more brick, and I assume that all of you will continue to “uncover” items as you redo portions of your landscape. In this situation, we needed to water jet under our brick to connect an isolated flower bed to a different irrigation zone. As we started to dig under the brick, guess what we found? More brick. To go below THAT brick would have involved, no joke, about 2-3’ of digging. Thankfully, after some work, we were able to go between the two layers of brick.

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Man draining water out of garden

A project always goes longer than you expect and takes you to dark.

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Patio under construction

We were hosting dinner last night, so as the sun started to go down, I had to abandon the backyard and go shower. I’m not sure how much “help” I was providing anyways…my back hurts if that is any proof of effectiveness, but I don’t think it is. The crew kept working, and a pang of guilt hit me as I continued to “help” by flicking on the back yard flood light as we carved a Greenberg smoked turkey that arrived as a gift from a local law firm. As we arose from the dinner table and went into the piano room to sing “Joy to the World” I kept one eye on the back yard as they, in the dark, turned irrigation zones on and fined tuned the installation. This falls in the category of “hosting while trying to complete a major landscape project.”

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Man running pipe by patio

Guess what’s blooming in old gardens right now?!

Chinese Sacred Lilies by a telephone pole

The snowpacolypse (Snowvid, Snowmageddon) in 2021 that killed our large oak tree that started this brick patio garden makeover also led to a big tree dying and falling on our front power lines. The power company replaced the pole but disturbed my nice clump of Chinese sacred lilies at the same time. They have somewhat recovered and are blooming now! I can never get enough of their sweet fragrance. Note how they compare to their cousins, the paperwhites. Paperwhites are, well, all white, hence the name. Chinese sacred lilies have yellow in their cup. They also have a different fragrance. If you don’t like the smell of paperwhites, you have a much better chance of liking the smell of Chinese sacred lilies.

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Chinese sacred lilies in a blue vase

A freeze is coming. Get ready!

The final alternate title relates to the fact that a hard freeze is coming. As of this writing, they are forecasting a freeze for tonight but worse, 12 degrees F on December 22nd before Christmas! That is cold. What does this freeze mean for flowerbulbs? All of the paperwhites that are blooming or about to bloom will have their blooms freeze to death. The foliage will be burned and will limp along with brown tips until May when the rest of the foliage starts to finally die down naturally. This freeze will slow the garden down until late January/February unless we have another hard freeze. Not much to do, except plan to bring succulents, citrus, and any other sensitive plants inside. I’m also planning on only having the blooms of our Shi-Shi Sasanqua for one more week.

Flowers blooming
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Chinese sacred lilies beside other plant

Once my paperwhites die, I plan to pull the annual tulips out of the fridge and plant them in their place. That will get me a beautiful display of color in March, and it will give me another garden project to do in 3 weeks! All the while, our perennial heirloom daffodils and Narcissus on the farm and in the garden aren’t missing a beat!

We’ll probably hold off on planting the ‘Near East’ crape myrtles and dwarf yaupon hollies until after the hard freeze…this is a pretty cold temperature for us. Note: I won’t leave the exposed potted crape myrtles or hollies outside, as the temperature for plants is even colder when they are in pots and exposed to the freezing temperatures on all sides of their root system. There are only two more gardening weeks left in the year and then it will be 2023!

8 Responses

  1. That bottom row of red bricks look like the ones on my front stoop. I need to make a patch, could you save them for me? 🙂

    1. Well, we were actually able to work around them and leave them in the ground. I’m like you…I’m always trying to save brick to match other areas in the garden. Whenever I need to match brick that I don’t have, I go walk around the brick yard at East Texas Brick in Tyler, TX. They have a large selections and collections from old homes.

  2. Shi Shi Sasanqua? Is that like it’s Foo Foo Fancy🤣*?

    *just kidding: I bet it’s a type citrus from the Orient, correct?

    1. Ha! Well, I don’t know actually. I have never dug deep into the Camelia world, but I really should. They bring so much December and January color to our gardens that I need to know more. I identifies this one with help from a visit by local nursery owner, Lauri Breedlove of Breedlove’s Nursery in Tyler, TX.

  3. Please tell me more about Chinese sacred lillies. When can they be ordered? And planted?

    Thank you,
    Ken Traynham

    1. Hi Ken! Typically we start selling them in September and they are planted from then through December. They are a Narcissus tazetta, just like paperwhites, and they act like them in that they start blooming soon after they are triggered to bloom with cooling temperatures and moisture in the fall. They are cold sensitive and are more reliable in in warmer areas like Zone 8b down to Zone 9, even down to Zone 10 (think southern tip of Florida). They are one of the first flower bulbs I collected in December of 2003. I was driving a small Honda Civic and I’ll never forget the delightful fragrance filling the car. We’re sold out this year already, but if you email the bulb company at we’ll put you on a list and let you know as soon as they come in. Check out more info here: They are used to celebrate the new year in certain Asian cultures as well.

  4. My front brick patio was expected to be done by Christmas. At least I expected it. I now understand delivery ETA possibly 2nd week of January. I don’t want the old pavers pulled and sod dug until shortly before work will be done. I’ll have that done right after New Year. I don’t need to use the front door. Best wishes to all !

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