Monday, July 11, 2011

Consider the lilies...

My friend Bill Adams says he doesn't like lilies. Harrumph! I am quite sure he is the only person I know (maybe the only one on the planet) who doesn't dote on these quintessential flowers of woodland and garden. I have always regarded almost any lily I have grown as a sort of holiday, almost a holy day: there is a waxy succulence to the petals and a sort of graceful bearing they possess that summons images of ballerinas, or heavenly mobiles of lucent purity. The orange Turk'scap above is Lilium pardalinum, one of many clumps around Denver Botanic Gardens that are reveling in our wet summer.

This is the pure white form of Lilium martagon in Woodland Mosaic at Denver Botanic Gardens. It is self sowing all over this garden and also in the thick mat of English ivy at Waring House gardens: what a plant! It positively glows in the shadowy light!

This is the dark purple form growing in my garden: it looks just like this today: I have seen this lily in Kazakhstan, and it grows over much of Eurasia. The variability is enormous over its range. How I would love to have samples of it from everywhere! Few plants endure such dark and dismal spots as this and grow so vigorously!

And finally, the turkscap form of Lilium pumilum from the interior of East Asia. This is growing in my rock garden, and always rivets the attention of visitors. It blooms the second year from seed invariably, and sometimes even the first (what more can you ask of a gem of a plant?)...

When the iris are largely done and the peonies just memories, the lilies chime in with their infinite variety of form and color to make the dog days of summer echo with their majesty. I must remember to order a bunch more this fall! And you should too, by the way...

"Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin..." (Matthew, 6:28)

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