plants your garden
These lilies bloom for only a few days at the height of summer, and I often miss their splendid flowers altogether, busy with other things, but not on the day I took these pictures, a day when the morning garden got blessed with a light that was simply surreal.
That being said, the most common lily varieties are almost as different among themselves as they are from the day lilies and Belladona lilies, and it is important to evaluate your expectations before planting a particular breed.
The Asiatic lilies bloom early, are very cold hardy, and have a compact, well behaved growth with upward facing flowers of almost any color imaginable. Their flowers don’t last very long, but, just like the daylilies, this particular variety is very prolific. Sadly, the flowers are not fragrant.
The Easter lily is a variety in and of itself. Its familiar long, trumpet shaped flowers, dangle gracefully from a sturdy stem; its flowers are very fragrant. It won’t survive winter in the colder regions, which is why it’s mostly grown commercially and, for this reason, more of a florist than a gardener’s flower.
The Oriental lilies are the patricians of the garden. Their flowers are very large, upward facing and fragrant. They come in an array of colors and will do well in colder climates.
The Madonna lilies are my favorites. They have the wild, sinewy growth of the wild species and are blessed with the classic lily blooms you see in old fashioned flower prints. The flowers are not very large but they grow in heavy clusters, and are so fragrant that they turn the whole garden into summer heaven. Of course the hybrid varieties have much larger flowers, but they still maintain a lot of the original intense perfume. Their blooms are usually pure white, with their middles stained yellow with the abundant pollen the plant produces. They bloom late in summer and are reasonably cold hardy, although they will not survive extreme winters. If you are blessed to have one in your garden, they are a true prize; not as easy-going as one would think for a wild species.
The beauty in the picture is “Triumphator”, a hybrid of the Easter and Oriental lilies, and it inherited the better qualities of both parents. It will overwinter in the garden and it is fragrant, but, as I said, doesn’t stay in bloom very long.