July 25, 2015


After a late afternoon summer thunderstorm - complete with small hail and gusty winds, the Kushi Maya lilies remained tall and strong. I expect these stems to be even taller and stronger next summer as the bulbs settle in - this was their first summer in our garden.

Hot, humid mid-summer days would never be the same without the rich scent of true lilies - particualy oriental and trumpet lilies, and most recently, the new Interdivisional lilies (those which are hybrids or crosses between lilies from different divisions, such as trumpets and orientals) which deserve as much praise as any lily today with lily aficionados, for they are changing how we all should think about lilies in the garden.

 Blooming this weekend in our garden is one called 'Kushi Maya', and I have to tell you - this one surprised me. I kind of suspected that something special was growing ( I ordered three bulbs from the United Kingdom this spring, but really I was just going off of a written description in a catalog, so you never know what it is going to look like). All I can say is this - look - if I am writing a single post about a single lily variety ( and you know I grow dozens of varieties), you can bet that it probably is a pretty awesome lily. This is a very special lily ( and it comes as no surprise that it won Best in Show in 2008 at the Chelsea Flower Show). Still uncommon here in the US, you must track some down now to plant in the fall (when one plants lily bulbs). I am planning to plant around 24 or so for a kick-ass display infront of the greenhouse. I kind-of like to go for the 'wow factor'.

With a greenish petal, and even a more olive-green reverse, the most striking color is the center, a dark blackberry purple.

Bred by Arie Pederse for H.W. Hyde & Sons in the UK, Kushi Maya is a true 'terst-tube- baby. What makes is so remarkable is the one of the parents in this complex cross is the very shy bloomer even temperamental lily Lilum nepalense - a treasure in any garden (if one could grow it well) but one which only produces single flowers, and is challenging breed with. We have modern breeding techniques to thank for this lily though, particularly in vivo culture and something known as embryo rescue - a process I am still trying to research but one which seems to be used with many inter-specific lilies. What 'Kushi Maya' does so spectacularly well, is takes the coloring and night-time fragrance of rare L. nepalense and then the fragrance and vigor of another complex cross   Lilium x auratum x speciosum. The result? An amazing five foot tall stunner - rich with the intense, spicy fragrance any lily lover loves, and a vigor which every lily lover respects.

And that name- 'Kushi Maya'? It's is an endearing term for young girls (children) in Nepal. embryo-recovery or embryo rescue techniques - test-tube baby

We have have some lily beetle damage, but very little considering how bad the lily beetle has been in past years. I am hopeful that the University of Rhode Island's release of a parasitic wasp near us, has reduced the beetle as the past two years have been relatively beetle free.

By Saturday, more flowers opened, and the scent became even stronger, floating across the entire garden.

July 22, 2015


Cheese makers from the Von Trapp Farmstead  in Waitsfield, Vermont offer samples of some of their award-winning creations. Oma was our favorite, a distinctive washed-rind/Tomme style organic unpasturized cows cheese.

Ooo - cheese! We've been cheese fans for a long time so when we were offered a chance to attend this years' sold out  7th Annual Vermont Cheemakers Festival by our good friends Tom and Bennett, we couldn't resist. This past weekend Joe and I boarded the dogs and drove up to the lush Green Mountains of Vermont for a bit a rest, relaxation and cheese. On the way up we stopped by Tom and Bennetts farm, Tom happens to not only be the event's organizer but also is the executive director of the Vermont Cheese Council.  The two of them just adopted one of our dogs (Lydias last litter) so little Maeva was happy to see us, if only for an hour. After all, they are practically in-laws now.

Jasper Hill Farm  (Greensboro, VT) is one of the cheese makers who has helped change how the world and cheese enthusiasts think about Vermont cheese.  Their caves ( cellars) - an underground cheese-aging facility which they share with select cheese makers and local farms, offers the perfect temperature and  humidity for aging specific cheeses (such as blues). It is encouraging to hear about their collaborative efforts and about their many successes.
The event naturally focused on cheese, but many stalls featured other artisional items from Vermont and New England ranging from bourbon and other distilled spirits, to craft beer, wine, jams and jellies and even salumi.

For more about the cheese festival, click below:

July 17, 2015


The first Saturday after the Fourth of July is typically the date for the New England Lily Society Show, and I hate to admit it, but I think that I've been to nearly all of them since - here I go - 1974 or so. Yes, I am that old! Actually, I started when I was about a very nerdy 14 year old - when the NRLG, or New England Regional Lily Group used to hold their shows at the old Horticultural Hall in downtown Worcester, MA, the home of the Worcester County Horticultural Society,which today has moved and become Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

For whatever reason, the Lily Show is my favorite - and sadly, nothing like it used to be ( like most flower shows - why aren't more people getting interested in joining and competing in plant societies anymore?). I think that the first plant society show that I ever attended aside from a spring flower show, was the lily show ( maybe 1971 or so?). By 1974, I started entering, although I must admit, I am quite guilty for not joining the lily society. I did join, once or twice over the years, but honestly, I belong to so many plant societies right now, that I have decided to just enjoy raising lilies - I can join when I am retired. Not setting a good example here folks, but, it is what it is.

Lilies are confusing to many new gardeners, and even to relatively experienced gardeners, as there are different types which can be confusing. Asiatic and Oriental seem so similar by name, but they are easy to identify - Asiatics are earlier blooming, usually have upright flowers although some are outfacing or pendant ( most of the lilies in this show are Asiatic)whilst Oriental lilies have larger, later-blooming flowers, and, they are often highly fragrant. Just think Casa Blanca, the most typical and iconic Oriental. Trumpets are, well - think Easter Lily, but there are many named varieties of Trumpets. Naturally, to confuse things, there are species lilies ( those found in nature) in all categories - for example, there are many types of wild trumpet lily species. Turkscap lilies are generally a term which includes the Martagons ( with waxy, down facing turkscaps) and some of our native species such as Lilium canadense here in the North East, and then there are those 'tiger lilies'. Sure, they could be considered 'turks cap' in style, but generally speaking, all 'tiger lilies' are Lilium tigrinum, a species form.

For more, click below: