A neat lily for this time of year

John Grimshaw j.grimshaw@virgin.net
Fri, 28 Jul 2006 01:57:07 PDT
I wonder if Jim McKenney's covetable library lacks Woodcock & Stearn's 
'Lilies of the World' (1950), which I find to be still the most thorough 
source of information on lilies.

It has the following information on the wild habitat of Lilium henryi, 
which, I think, explains much about its arching habit: 'On the sun-scorched 
wind-swept ledges of limestone cliffs in the Ichang gorge, whence Augustine 
Henry sent bulbs to Kew in 1889, it rarely exceeded three feet in height and 
bore only one or two flowers.'  The arching habit would seem well adapted to 
holding the flowers away from the cliffs for visitation by pollinating 
butterflies (I presume). I believe that L. speciosum var. gloriosoides has 
exactly the same habit and similar habitat.

Woodcock & Stearn also mention var. citrinum, which they report to have 
arisen at Melrose, Massachusetts, about 1925. Although it would not be given 
the rank of variety these days, back then the concepts of taxonomic rank had 
not been clearly formulated and there was no way of expressing the modern 
concept of cultivar, so various varieties, forms, strains etc were named, 
often with Latin epithets. So we should not be harsh on the originator of 
the name.

Under the name L. henryi 'Improved' Woodcock & Stearn describe 'A form with 
a stiffer and more erect stem.... It was raised at Charlotte, Vermont, USA 
by Messrs Horsford, but a form of rather similar habit has been developed in 
England by Mr. E.A.Bowles.'

With similar habit and flower-shape are several Aurelian hybrid lilies, 
derived from crossing L. henryi with trumpet lilies. I have one bought as 
'Lady Alice' flowering now, with more or less white flowers with a soft 
apricot central band. Very attractive indeed, and next year I shall move it 
a few feet so that it flowers in front of the pale blue Clematis 'Prince 
Charles'. Currently occupying that spot is a bright yellow L. leichtlinii 
that also makes an effective colour pairing, but 'Lady Alice' and 'Prince 
Charles' will be a very happy match.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Website: http://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim McKenney" <jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com>
> I don't see Lilium henryi in gardens often. It has one fault for which 
> most
> gardens will not forgive it: it leans. In fact, long ago E.A. Bowles
> accurately compared its habit of growth to that of a Polygonatum.
> I've never seen them, but rigidly upright forms are mentioned in the older
> literature. These I would like to have.
> But it was not Lilium henryi itself which prompted this post. The lilies I
> want to call attention to are the yellow-flowered forms of Lilium henryi.
> These yellow-flowered forms are lumped under the nonsense name Lilium 
> henryi
> var citrinum. I call this a nonsense name because a) there is no wild
> population anywhere in the world which corresponds to these 
> yellow-flowered
> plants b) they are of independent origin, i.e. they are not a clone c) 
> they
> are not all alike, a circumstance which corroborates the assumption that
> they have independent origins.

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