First Lilium and Other Tidbits

The first true lily of the season is open. This is asiatic hybrid lily, L. ‘Buff Pixie’.
This and another mini lily, L. ‘Pink Pixie’ were gifts for Christmas two years ago planted in a pot from offspring Semi. We always dig the bulbs given at that time of year out of the pots and plant them in the ground, keeping the pots for other uses. It is easier to keep them watered without drowning them that way. Still a very appropriate gift, and much appreciated. The pink ones bloom later and are not as vigorous. Thanks, Semi, where did you get these, we need more of them, lots more.

Being the first to bloom is always a plus on our garden rating system. Being well ahead of the other plants of the same type gets bonus points. Being this soft apricot color is off the charts.

Here is our little Buff Pixie, one lone bulb amid a sea of daylily foliage, wild crazy sedum acre that came with the property, heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’, dying tulip foliage, phlox paniculata foliage, echinacea foliage…you get the idea. A lot of green leaves whose flowers are not yet open surround this sweet eighteen inch tall lily. Something that provides color until the taller lilies and daylilies open is something we need lots more of in this bed.

All the lilies are loaded with buds. The daylily hill is edged in honey to cream colored Lilium Longiflorum- Asiatic ‘Royal Heritage’. “Longiflorum-Asiatic (“LA”) Hybrid Lilies are quite special. Their thick, waxy flowers are larger and even more abundant than those of the Asiatic Hybrid Lilies. They exude a subtle fragrance of raspberries and roses, reminiscent of their Easter Lily parentage. Of intermediate height, they are perfect for striking clusters in perennial beds. Make sure to include some of these fragrant beauties in your cutting garden for they are also tremendous cut flowers. Top size bulbs: at least 14/16 cm. Height: 2′ to 3 1/2′. Bloom time: June/July. Plant 6″ deep and 12″ apart. Horticultural zones 4-8.” This is the description from the Van Engelen website, the source for these bulbs. We can vouch that the hype is true.

These are the buds from a tall, robust dark orange asiatic hybrid lily. Purchased for half price at a big box store as part of a mixture of colors the first year we moved here, 2000, the orange ones of this group have outperformed the other colors, red, yellow and a sickly white by a long shot. The lilies were all pitiful last year after the late hard freeze, and appear to be making up for lost bloom this year, as so many of the plants seem to be doing.

Since you don’t want to see more lilies in bud, not flower, here are some other things happening in the garden today. Forest Pansy redbud is looking better than ever, even after receiving damage from a fallen pine limb that tore the tree in half. The surviving half has rallied, bloomed heavily and has now leafed out beautifully. Nothing was done to protect the large scar on the trunk, it may be that the sap system has bypassed the wound. Hope so.

These three peony blooms are just silly. The hybridizers have put so many petals on each flower head, there is no way the skinny stem can hold it upright. While lovely and fragrant, they are barely worth having in the garden. Lucky for them the peonies are all grown by the HVAC unit at the side of the house, rarely gazed upon by the gardener, or they would be goners.

In the same area as the herbaceous peonies are three roses growing against the fence. These are the rootstock from Iceburg that succumbed to the cold in our other Tennessee garden. Transplanted to this house after it was purchased for Semi and Chickenpoet to live in while attending college here, these have never failed to bloom and are totally care free. As we said before, this is at the side of the house with the heater, rarely visited, mostly ignored. It is nice to glance at the streak of red as we come and go.

It has been noted that the readers like to see the whole view of the garden sometimes, in addition to the close ups. I agree. It is more like being there in person. This shot, taken while standing on the path between the shrub border and the garage deck, looking east toward the arbor (not shown), shows blue bellflower, campanula persicifolia falling over onto the path. Blue fescue, butterfly weed in bud, dwarf ribbon grass, wooly yarrow, gaillardia ‘Goblin’, and daylily foliage are in the closest bed. On the other side of the gravel path is the white/yellow garden, although it contains many other colors too. The red is gaillardia ‘Burgundy’, the whitish is dappled willow, salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ , yellow leafed caryopteris ‘Worcester Gold’, and just starting to bloom at the rock edge, veronica ‘Royal Candles’. Really, there is so much in this photo, I can’t name them all, it would only add to the confusion. Click on the picture to see more detail of the plants. The whole garden has become like this, so many things are planted in the beds, sometimes they get forgotten amid the larger specimens. Part of the fun is finding volunteers and given up for dead plantings while weeding on hands and knees. While that part is not fun, but rather back breaking, the satisfaction of keeping the weeds at bay for a short while is pleasurable in addition to the treasures found.

Newly purchased geranium ‘Roxanne’ has started to fill in by the crossvine where Killer used to grow. We should have gotten more of these. Maybe they can be divided down the road. The blue color is soothing and exciting at the same time.

Finally, this planting in the tall blue pot in front contains alyssum grown from seeds given by Chickenpoet, thanks CP, named A. ‘Wonderland Copper’. Planted before the flowers had opened with the copper colored coleus, S. ‘Sedona’ and seed grown cerinthe purpurascens. The cerinthe is not looking very purple right at the moment but it is still young. Young or old, the alyssum is sort of coppery if you squint your eyes. Eye squinting is a talent acquired through years of intense study and practice. It makes dying bulb foliage disappear, clashing colors complement each other and wrinkles fade from view. If that formula could be bottled, it would make us zillionaires. But we are already rich with the enjoyment we get from the garden and happy with our lot.


There will be more posts about these flowers as the lilies open. More were planted last fall,including some new ones that we are excited about, as the stalks are tall and there are many buds, even on the first year plants. Hooray!


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24 Responses to First Lilium and Other Tidbits

  1. Gail says:

    Frances what a lovely tour….I love when the docent is knowledgeable and a good speaker.

    The many leaved bed is very reminiscent of the sunny border here at C&S…right now in between times it’s quite green. It’s where I moved most of the Daylilies when we added the porch…they are very happy in more sun.

    To the list: lilies like Frances has..


  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I just love your lilies Frances. I only have a couple of varieties and none are blooming yet. I can’t wait to see what all you have.

    I do like seeing your overall pictures. You have such an extensive garden and it feels like I am right in it with the overall pictures.

    I have a forest pansy redbud right outside my office window. I just love to watch it as it goes through its spring transformation. I hope your tree survives. They are so pretty.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    P.S. I am an eye squinter from way back. tee hee…. I love that paragraph.

  4. tina says:

    And to think I just missed the opening by two days! I did love your groupings of lillies and took a picture too. I have also found some to not be hardy at all. Starfire most notably. I have one kind that blooms reliably and it is orange, though I have no idea the variety! No surprise there. I think the picture of the buds is outstanding!

  5. Dave says:

    Great shots Frances! I’d love to put one of those Forest Pansy redbuds in our yard somewhere. The lilies look great!

  6. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, thanks, you always make me laugh. The daylilies are a must have here, and are interplanted with daffodils and orietal lilies, I forgot to mention those. But there is a green period, now before the lilies open, where there is nothing happening. Maybe some husker reds, they look great now, could be added. More to the mix!

    Thanks, Lisa. I am adding more lilies each year as there are ones with different bloom times to extend the color. I will try and post each type as they open, for my records also. The orientals are a little more tricky I think, but Stargazer was fantastic last year when little else did well.

    Hi Tina, thanks. The buds certainly whet the appetite, don’t they? Sorry you missed the lily show, it is a wonderful period in the garden.

    Hi Dave, thanks. Let it be known that I have killed two Forest Pansies already somehow, they just failed to leaf out after blooming. This one was doing better then was struck by the limb calamity. They do look wonderful in the landscape, my neighbor has several, they look like a cloud of purple right now.


  7. walk2write says:

    Frances, your garden is like the world in microcosm. The plants remind me of people. Don’t you do that sometimes? I mean associate certain plants you like with people who make an impression on you. Like the silly peonies with the big, droopy heads or the regal looking lily. I think gardening makes us feel like we have a little bit of control over a world that is so out of control.

  8. Frances, says:

    Hi Walk2write, you have made a very profound statement there, about having control over something when the outside world has gone crazy it seems, if you listen to the news alot. It is true that I can lose myself in the garden, forgetting all troubles, pulling that weed, or planting something that looks pretty. I do think of the plants as my friends, poison ivy as my enemy, even the weeds are like the hard to get along with relatives, a constant in life. ;-> Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  9. Melanie says:

    Frances, I look forward to seeing more of your Lilies. We have a few year but they were put in many years ago and have been declining. I’d like to add more but really need to do some research as I’m looking for ones that top out at 3 feet, are heavy bloomers and maybe even increase.

  10. Gail says:

    We were at Growild, my go to source for info on natives, and Terry said that as pretty as Forest Pansy is in the garden…it just isn’t as hardy as the other Cercis. I thought that was interesting and my own small FP has many small dead branches. None the less, there are magnificent specimens all over Nashville. She recommended a Smoke Tree…Grace for the same color and my gardening buddy bought that one.

  11. Frances, says:

    Hi Melanie, thanks for visiting. When shopping for lilies, I look for those magic words, ‘needs no staking’. The LA hybrids have been wonderful, fragrant, where the other asiatics are not, very stout stem, multiplies well, and less than three feet tall. Sounds like you kind of lily!

    Thanks for that Gail. I have two cotinus, don’t know the cultivar and they are a wonderful color and very hardy. The downside to them is their size. I was constantly cutting on the one, finally cut it to the ground and will keep it coppiced. The other is planted behind the bench in the knot garden and get as large as it wants to. They grow very fast, many feet in one year, and I don’t like the crowded look of the branches growing together. There may be a dwarf, maybe Grace is it.

  12. Ewa says:

    I just gave you the award, have a look at my blog 🙂

  13. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    If that Geranium is ‘Rozanne,’ then yes, you can divide it. I divided mine into 3 pieces last year & they’re all bulking up quickly. I have been eyeing the LA hybrid Lilies for some time now, but I think I finally figured out a place to put them. Now I just have to try to decide which to get, there are so many tempting ones.

  14. Frances, says:

    Many thanks, Ewa. I have placed the link to your blog in the photo of the award. I love it.

    MMD, thanks for that, I wasn’t sure whether it was an x or a z. Good to know, I would like it to fill in among some lysimachia ciliata, a red leafed thug in the same bed. The blue flower and red foliage look great together. Hope the geranium can withstand the onslaught. I have a lot of different colors in the lily bed so wanted a sort of neutral edger, the pale creamy Royal Fantasy is gorgeous. I would like to try them all, maybe will order the mixture, then the colors can be studied. How fun.

  15. semi says:

    The Pixie lilies were purchased at Van Engelen and John Scheepers has a Crimson Pixie. Your pots are always so lovely, i love the copper coleus. I hope the cerinthe in bloom. love semi

  16. Frances, says:

    Hooray, Semi. We must order more. I also hope the cerinthe do something besides look sickly, like they are now doing. love.

  17. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    Those lilies are lovely. I love buff-colored or a gentle apricot-colored flowers. My lilies, which were named ‘Spirit’, were originally buff-colored but the only ones that have come back are plain white. I’ve never found the ‘Spirit’ lilies for sale again but I might like yours even more. Time to shop around, I think.

  18. Rose says:

    I enjoyed seeing the “broader picture” of your garden. So many beautiful plants, but the apricot lily is a stunner.
    (I think I misunderstood an earlier post–I thought Chickenpoet was the name of your chicken!)

  19. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Your apricot lily is pretty… but I am really drawn to the beauty of that wild rootstock rose. I wonder if it could be ‘Dr. Huey’ as that was commonly used as roostock for years?

    Your ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud is absolutely gorgeous. Especially backlit. I’m so glad that it has recovered for you.

  20. Frances, says:

    Hi MSS, I saw the older photos of Spirit and admired the color on your blog. That is such a great idea, showing previous year’s blooms and records. Maybe someday for me to do that too, if I could only get a little better with the computer. I do think Royal Fantasy is a very close match to Spirit, give it a try! Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Rose, HA Chickenpoet is my oldest female offspring, and she raises chickens and has been writing poetry that no one is allowed to see since she was in grade school. Hence the name she chose for herself. The lilies look like they are going to have a good year, thanks for visiting.

    Hi Kim, I like that rose too. It has been written that that is a junk rose and should be discarded if the hybrid tea grafted to it dies! Not in this garden! It only blooms once but it is fairly shady where it is growing, so is prized anyway. So far Forest Pansy is doing well, but we know it could go at any time. Thanks for dropping by.

  21. Pomona Belvedere says:

    I always find the first lily a big excitement, too–I have two ready to pop. I love the way the buds look–and they’re different on different lilies.

    Nice to see ‘Sedona’ in a real garden–it lives up to its nursery-catalogue looks.

    Thanks for letting me hang out. I’ve put your blog on the “links” list of my blog, it should have every possible access. I look forward to visiting again.

  22. Frances, says:

    Hi Pomona, welcome and thanks for visiting. What is the name of your blog, so I can drop by and check it out? Thanks for linking me.

  23. Linette says:

    I love seeing your garden photos. You’re a couple weeks ahead of me, so I see the wonderful things to come in my garden:)

    My peonies are still in tight buds, and my lilies are not even thinking about blooming yet.

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Linette, thanks for visiting. Our peonies are done, a couple of the lilies are showing color in the buds in addition to Buff Pixie that is open. The earliest daylilies have sent up spikes also. Summer will be here soon!

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