The Year of the Lily at Powell Gardens

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The Year of the Lily at Powell Gardens

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

The ample moisture and more reasonable temperatures have made the summer of 2008 the year of the lily at Powell Gardens. Lilies (Lilium spp.) are bulbs, most with exceptionally showy flowers and some with intense fragrance.

There are hundreds of species of lilies and the Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) is one of the most popular. Easter lilies are actually from Asia but forced into bloom for Easter sales. Hardy selections of Easter Lily bloom in midsummer and are pristine white with a very fine aroma. These were photographed in the Perennial Garden. The Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum) is the actual lily that is the symbol of purity and faith for Christians. Madonna lilies must be ordered now and planted by Labor Day because they must grow some foliage before fall.

There are thousands of cultivars of lilies but luckily they are assigned into several groups: Asiatic Lilies are some of the easiest to grow in our climate and come in a wide array of colors from white to yellow, orange, red and burgundy: this is the cultivar ‘Savannah’ in the Perennial Garden. Most Asiatic lilies are scentless and the flowers face upwards.

Tumpet lilies like this cultivar ‘Golden Splendor’ on the Island Garden are tall with trumpet shaped blooms that are also fragrant. This clump was hit hard by the Easter freeze of 2007. It languished all last year but we “let it be.” This year it came back as if nothing had happened and seemed to make up for lost time!

Oriental Lilies are some of our most fragrant and require proper siting in our climate. These Stargazer Oriental Lilies were photographed in the Perennial Garden–in the afternoon shade of native trees. Oriental Lilies can literally bake in our hot afternoon sun so that the flower buds brown and never open.

New hybrid lilies have created quite a splash. This is a LA Lily: LA stands for longiflorum (Easter) – Asiatic (not Los Angeles!). LA lilies have the colors of Asiatic lilies, the fragrance of Easter lilies, and an exceptional hybrid vigor. This is the cultivar Gerrit Zalm in the Perennial Garden which would be a great addition to a moon or white garden.
Some of the newest hybrid lilies show incredible vigor! This is a new Orienpet lily. Orienpet stands for Oriental – Trumpet hybrid lilies. These have the most hybrid vigor, good heat resistance and awesome fragrance. The unnamed hybrid shown from the Perennial Garden is well over 6 feet tall. Unfortunately the colors of many Orienpet lilies are just plain ugly blends of pink and yellow.
Powell Gardens’ favorite Orienpet lily is the cultivar ‘Silk Road,’ which graces the entrance to the Island Garden’s Sunken Garden. It has good color, fragrance and abundant bloom on sturdy 6 foot stems! Make sure to include lilies into your gardens for next year–there are many species and even more cultivars to choose from. Many of the later blooming varieties are still in bloom for ideas at Powell Gardens.