Trumpet & Oriental Lilies: Perfection in Bloom

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oriental lily

Lilies Are the Whole Flower Package: Beauty, Fragrance and Strengthoriental lilies in bloom

The phrase to gild the lily says it all. Why would anyone attempt to improve or adorn something that is already perfect. The reference is not intended for the tulip, peony or daisy; it pays homage to the lily–in my mind, a floral gem with few peers.

2010_02_16_blog_lily_bulbs

It’s hard to believe these scaly, bearded bulbs can release such fanciful, fragrant wands.

big lily bulb

Dramatic, fragrant and easy to grow, lilies are at home in Pacific Northwest and much of the rest of the country from Zones 5-8.

lily blossoms

Now through spring is the time to plant lily bulbs, that is once the ground is thawed for those in colder climes. Bulbs are readily available at sources online and at nurseries this time of year–bagged, dormant and ready to woo the uninitiated (and the devoted fan) come July and August.

 bulb auger drill and bulbs

This is my lily-bulb-planting secret weapon, a drill with a bulb auger attachment. Next to the wheel, these are two of my favorite inventions (grunting like caveman). This tool duo can make bulb planting a breeze.  The secret to site selection is excellent drainage and at least six hours of sun each day. If too shaded, they tend to lean in search of more light and produce fewer flowers.

digging holes lily bulbs

I look for spaces in the garden free of spring blooming bulbs. In the above photo, I “drill” between the snowbells and bluebells to a depth of about 10 inches. Then, I return four inches of soil to the hole, place the bulb in the hole tip up so it’s six inches deep and return the rest of the soil, patting down firmly.

  lily bulb auger

Oriental Lilies are July and August bloomers with a very strong fragrance, 3-6′ in height with a wide variety of patterns and colors on forward-facing blossoms. My favorite varieties include: Muscadet, Casa Blanca, Excelsior, Lovely Girl and Dizzy.

Trumpet (Aurelian) Lilies can be towering at 4-7′ and well-suited at nose height to share their perfume with every passerby. Blooming in July and August, trumpet lilies are nodding and more tubular in shape like the Easter lily, a well-known but shorter variety of trumpet lily. My hands-down favorite is Regale, the petals are white on the inside and burgundy on the outside. They are especially beautiful planted en masse.

I can thank John Singer Sargent for moving to me to plant drifts of lilies. One look at his dreamy painting  Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and I was hooked.

A word about Asiatic Lilies, I’m not a huge fan. If they were a beer, I’ll call them LITE, a watered down version of Oriental and Trumpet lilies–shorter, brassier and usually without fragrance.

lily flowers in bloom

While Boz and Gracie like their lilies, they are particularly fond of hostas–bigger, better leaves for hiding bones under.

bulldogs in the garden boz and gracie

One year ago: Debonair in Duct Tape at Any Age

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’m speechless; however, if you say that you also have lily of the valley in that garden of yours, I say no need to bother coming with a cup to borrow sugar. Bring those and stay for dinner!

  2. I just RSS feeded your blogself so now I can be the FIRST TO KNOW, an early adopter, if you will. What does that mean, anyway, if you will? What about if you won’t? Anyone ever say that? And let’s talk about raised beds, shall we? Rant.

  3. Miss Elizabeth you are one funny lady. Yeah, don’t get me started on raised beds, waste of wood, time and energy. Spend the money on soil amendments. Hmmm, I see a post (rant) in the making.

  4. soil amendments? did I just read soil amendments?…I know that’s just a code word for a very controversial topic. Am I right? why must you tease your readership so? this is not a rant.

  5. brion, uh, what I meant was that gardeners (usually in urban settings) are better off just improving the soil in a vegetable patch with some homemade compost, bagged composted steer or chicken manure to add volume to the soil. You can have ‘raised’ beds just without the expense of corrals made of pressure treated wood. And they are easier to maintain.

  6. so your not commenting specifically on the efficacy of or methods associated with the use of or production of partially decomposed organic matter?…this is not a rant

  7. raised beds are imperative if you live on a slope like me, and don’t necessarily want to eat the soil, due to the location of your land being so close to a landfill. i came here to comment on how much i like this lily post, but hey, please don’t judge all raised beds in their entirety, that is not fair. and as for you! paul stamets said never to eat mushrooms grown on your island! a simple reason raised beds in your neck of the woods wouldn’t be such a bad idea either? not that you’re growing mushroom,s but all the same, fall-out from pulp mills lingers in that there soil.

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