July 22, 2008

Mid Summer Flower Show

Annuals and Daylilies on the back porch
The Daylily variety is 'Vintage Wine'

Some new Orienpet lilies, planted last fall. Orienpets are newer crosses made between two Oriental Lilies ( like Casa Blanca) and trumpet lilies ( like, well.......trumpet lilys - see earlier post). I love lime-green/yellow flowers, as well as the spicy fragrance of these summer lilies. Plus these seem to be a little more resistant to the lily beetle.

Spencer variety Sweet Peas. This one is 'Valerie Harrod'

Some fo the Blackmore & Langdon tuberous begonia, begining to bloom. A Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae is blooming in the rear.

Annual Snapdragons along the greenhouse walk.

July 13, 2008

Blue and Yellow Garden

"Lilium 'Moonlight Strain', Lime-Intensely Fragrant Yellow Trumpet signal the peak of the July Lily season.

My test plot, corner, for the blue and yellow garden is proving fruitful. So many plants come in these colors, that the options seem endless, but I can tell now that next year, when I complete this garden, I will edit little, other than follow my notes to plant more of each variety, to that the display will be effective. One Nepeta is fine, 7 will be finer. The Daylily's can be divided into more clumps, to create a larger display. I like to visit a local daylily nursery, and hand select the perfect color of yellow. I am partial to the greenish yellows, and like to balance these tints with a golden yellow.

These Delphinum hybrids were grown from seed, purchased in Germany from Jelitto Seed Company. In their second year, I hope that they will last until next year to reach full size.

Taking garden photos at dusk, allows for a more sensitive palette. If I could only find my tripod screw which I lost earler in the garden, this would have been less blury.

Daylily "Omomuki"
Similar to the variety named 'Joel', this is one of those Daylilies that once you see it, you have to have it. Again, it has that perfectly perfect, lime-green color which I love, and it has tremendous substance, with large flowers and a high bud count. Ruffled petals, and an all-round good garden plant for the border. Don't expect to find this guy at your local garden center though, it will take some years for it to get there. Try a local Daylily nursery. This one came from Seawright Gardens, a local daylily breeder in Carlisle, Massachusetts, just west of Boston. Visit now, and have one of the boys dig you up a few fans. Seeing them in the ground, is one of the best way to choose a color.

July 8, 2008

Summer Lilies

The week after Independence Day is the traditional weekend for Lily Show's in the North East. When I was a kid, I would grow true lilies for exhibition at our local Horticultural Society - The Worcester County Horticultural Society, now relocated from it's more austere location from Horticultural Hall in the City, to what is now, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, in Boylston, Massachusetts. Many new comers to gardening confuse Daylilies, which are Hemerocallis and which have their own show in two weeks when most Daylilies peak, with true lilys ( those plants which grow from bulbs, and have Lilium as their genus).

Lilies are classified into many categories by growers, and this is the time to order your bulbs, since they are shipped in the late autumn. A local Lily show is one of the best places to see these stunning flowers, since most garden centers focus on selling older varieties, or shorter, more manageable Asiatics, which are more prone to a recently introduced pest, the Lily Beetle.

When we think of lilies, we may think of Daylilies(Hemerocallis), or Tiger Lilies ( Lilium tigrinum), or even florist types such as the Easter Lily ( Lilium longiflorum) or the fragrant Casa Blanca Lily ( Lilium auratum hybrids). But there are so many more.
I like to arrange a single variety ( here, the species form of Lilium regale, native to Shichuan,China. These are young seedlings planted out last autumn. I prefer to never pull the pollen sacks of, as many people like to do. Sure, it can cause staining on linens, but in July, who uses linens? One only risks a stained nose if one is not careful. The fragrance is intoxicating, a strange a beautiful mixture of heavy cream and toothpaste, I think! I love it - it brings me back to my high school years, when I worked as a gardener at the estate of Helen Stoddard in Worcester, MA - a Fletcher Steele garden, where Lilium regale where planted in drifts, and I would pedal home on my bicycle with the 6 foot long stems, since the Stoddards would undoubtedly be at their summer home in New Brunswick, Canada for the month, and I felt bad that there was no one there to enjoy them!

The down facing Asiatics are plagued by Lily Beetle, but this year we have bee rather lucky, and have also been studious at hand-picking them off every morning.

Last autumn, after seeing how well the trumpet lilies have matured in the new rock garden our front, I decided to invest in a few dozen bulbs of each variety. With stems over 6 feet tall, I think I found my Lilium sweet spot. This year, one of the trumpets is nearly 8 feet tall. The old stem is still next to it, and I can see that it is two feet higher, and still growing. Last year, there was 7 blossoms, this year, nearly 15. Next year.....?