Species Lilies--TOW

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Wed, 04 Jun 2003 13:26:16 PDT
I don't grow many lilies because they are too big (mostly) for the bulb 
frame, and in the open garden every sort of predator destroys them -- 
slugs, rabbits, voles, field mice, and deer. Species that do well here in 
the maritime Pacific Northwest without supplementary summer watering 
include certain western American ones (Lilium columbianum, which is native 
on my property; L. kelloggii, L. pardalinum, L. parvum); L. candidum, the 
Madonna lily; L. bulbiferum, L. pyrenaicum; and many in the Asiatic section 
such as L. pumilum and L. cernuum. L. lankongense is often seen in 
well-watered gardens, where it escapes predators by its stoloniferous habit.

One species I cherish, to the point of surrounding it with hardware-cloth 
cylinders this year to keep off the rabbits and slugs, is L. rubescens from 
California. It is like a small version of L. washingtonianum, which grows 
at higher elevations near my home but is extremely difficult to cultivate 
lower down. L. rubescens reaches about 4 feet/140 cm in height and has 
trumpet flowers which open pale pink to white and gradually turn 
purple-pink; these are extremely fragrant. I grow it now on a steep, sunny 
slope in very sandy soil.

I also grow, but do NOT recommend for Mediterranean climates, some of the 
small Himalayan lilies favored by rock gardeners, such as L. oxypetalum, L. 
nanum, and L. mackliniae. These require the coolest possible conditions 
(but plenty of light), rather dry winters or at least extreme drainage, and 
ample summer water. They are not very cold-hardy without deep snow cover.

I don't know if anyone has yet mentioned the Lily Species Preservation 
Society, founded in 1995 as an offshoot of the North American Lily Group of 
the Lily Society. Edward McRae, author of an authoritative recent book on 
lilies ("Lilies: A Guide for Growers and Collectors," Timber Press, 1998), 
works with this society growing species lilies from seed in a nursery near 
Parkdale, Oregon, on the northeastern slope of Mount Hood, a dormant 
volcano that is the highest peak in Oregon. Grown from seed, isolated from 
viruses and many pests (except gophers!), these lily populations are being 
raised for sale to benefit conservation initiatives and to some extent for 
reintroduction to the wild. Eddie has quite a few American species 
there,  and also Asian species, but I don't think many European ones yet.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

More information about the pbs mailing list