Many of the gardeners I know have a specific reason they first became interested in gardening. Sometimes it’s a particular plant. My friend Gordon, now the owner of a showplace garden that overflows with two ponds, multiple vines, shrubs and perennials and annuals seemingly on steroids got into it because he wanted water lilies. I suspect my friend Cheryl might never have established a garden had her husband not wanted tomatoes, and I know many people who got into gardening to grow roses. (They usually get over it.)
From the first time I saw one and knew it for what it was, not just a big flower in a bouquet, I was enchanted by the idea of growing oriental lilies. When I started my present garden, I rushed right out and bought a stargazer plant, which was pretty much the only kind the local nurseries had at that time. Then I learned about mail order and bookmarked every single place that sold the bulbs. I tried Madonna lilies (candidum), which bloomed once and never again, and asiatics, which failed to thrive in partial shade and heavy clay.
It turned out that species types like martagon and henryi, trumpets, orienpets, and several oriental hybrids were the best fit for my garden.
I don’t think I would have flung myself so passionately into gardening if it had not been for lilies; indeed, the garden wouldn’t look like much without them (mainly because I have so many and can’t plant too much where they are in fear of gouging them).
Whatever our gardens turn out to be though, I think there is usually one element that starts the ball rolling, whether it’s a small herb plot that expanded or a inspirational bearded iris or peony that deserved better companions.
I think of this now because for whatever reason, I have so many different lilies blooming at once.