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LOVELY LILIES: Free Look At International Competition

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Lilies may often get overlooked in the garden. But this weekend, the beautiful blooms will be the star of the show. The Iowa Regional Lily Society hosts the International Lily Show for the North American Lily Society this weekend in West Des Moines.

Gardener Kristi Evans says, "As you can see, they're absolutely beautiful." Evans planted a lily bed five years ago. Now, she's grooming her garden to show. She says, "Lilies are very easy to grow. As spectacular as they look."

More than 100 people will tour her Johnston garden this Saturday. It's on the North American Lily Society's bus tour for the International Lily Show. This is the first time the Des Moines metro plays host in 27 years. Evans says, "Usually it's in Canada or Ohio or Pennsylvania. This way I get to get in on the whole show, or convention."

And the convention is serious stuff. Members will tour several central Iowa gardens. And, speakers from as far away as South Korea will give advice on how to grow lilies. Then, Friday morning, the stunning stems will compete for best in show. Wanda Lunn with the Iowa Regional Lily Society says, "Some people will groom a stem for an hour, two hours to get it just perfect, so that they can win the top prize, the Isabella Preston Award."

You can check out the lilies this weekend when the show is open to the public. Lunn says, "When you come in, when these are all in bloom, all open and they're all on the stems, the scent will knock you over for one thing, but it's like having a whole summer's worth of blooms blooming on one day."

More than 160 people will bring multiple lilies to show, including varieties from all over the Midwest and even Canada. Lunn says, "Come to the lily show. If you miss it, you've missed out. If you're a gardener of any type, you've really got to see these in bloom. You'll fall in love."

Evans has already fallen in love with lilies. She says, "They're just very simple. They're beautiful."

The International Lily Show takes place at the Sheraton Hotel in West Des Moines. The public can attend for free after the judging Friday morning. You can check out the flowers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Members will be on hand to answer questions about how to grow lilies.