For years I have been wondering why more gardeners I knew did not grow lilium. Apparently, I’m not alone. A couple weeks ago, an electronic press packet representing a big lilium promotion by Netherland Bulb arrived in the Rant mailbox (and some of yours as well, I am sure).
It is true that many gardeners have still not gotten past Stargazers—in fact, a local florist I know who generally has a nice selection of Oriental lilies tends to call them all Stargazers no matter what they are. It’s also true that some of my Garden Walk visitors still look at my lilies in amazement and ask if they need to be overwintered inside. So maybe a new round of lilium education is called for.
And there’s news! Those of us who have learned to embrace orienpets will now need to figure out a whole new alphabet soup of hybrids which culminate in a new LAOT hybrid—a four way cross between Longiflorum, Asiatic, Oriental and Trumpet. Lilies are being bred to have different colors, subtler fragrances, more up-facing blooms, and—as you see above—brightly colored buds.
Which is all very well. I ordered and planted some of the new OTs myself this year. But I wonder if it is the lack of new hybrids that stops many gardeners from adding more lilies. There are other issues with lilies—like their general need for staking (Asiatics need it less), thanks to their height and heavy flowers. The blooms and scent have to be worth it for the gardener—placing them against or among equally tall camouflaging plants helps.
It also seems a shame that promoters are not reminding gardeners about the really foolproof lilies, the ones that will put up with partial shade, bad drainage, and general incompetence to persevere, bloom, and return year after year. These are the lilies I depend on, and I’m guessing none of them will be the subject of special promotions:
L. Casa Blanca. Always fabulous.
I can easily envision limiting myself to just those five. Ha.