Nth. Am. Lilium

DaveKarn@aol.com DaveKarn@aol.com
Thu, 17 Jun 2004 22:36:41 PDT
Dirk, Jim ~

<<> . . . I've managed to kill the lot of them . . . 

Cheer up, you're in good company, as no less a lily personage than Eddie 
McRae has about given up with washingtonianum.  Each July when I travel up to the 
northeastern slopes of Mt. Hood (above the Mt Hood Valley and the Columbia 
Gorge) to his growing range to take in the latest marvels of his tetraploid 
breeding work with trumpet lilies, I always make it a point to check out "his" 
patch of washingtonianum up there.  This group of lilies is growing at the 
north-facing edge of the Douglas fir woodland forest at the top edge of his open 
field and each stem usually has a fat pod from his work with an anther.  I rather 
doubt that this particular location gets much, if any, sunshine although, of 
course, it does get plenty of light.  For that reason, the immediate area is 
usually cool and probably cools off considerably at night; humidity is usually 
pretty low, as well.  After about mid-June, it rains very little to none here 
west of the Cascade Mountains until the Fall rains start in September or 
October.  I assume that soil (probably mostly a duff of fir leaves and various other 
bits and pieces of plant debris) may dry out considerably during that time.  
I have no idea how deep the bulbs are growing.  Down several inches there may 
be enough moisture to keep soil humidity fairly high and the bulbs fully 
hydrated during the dry season.  He keeps trying with the seed each year but I 
can't recall that he has had any particular bit of luck in getting the bulbs to 
blooming size.  Like all of the species lilies he has growing there, the 
seedling bulblets (when ready) are planted right out in the field in full sun to take 
whatever Mother Nature provides (augmented by man's irrigation sprinklers!).

I would imagine in your part of the country with this particular species, the 
heat, moisture and crushing humidity would do almost any lily in, to say 
nothing about a lily as fussy as this one!

In what may a "difficult to believe" scenario, I have a three flowered stem 
of columbianum growing in the daffodil field.  It never showed itself in that 
particular spot there before (in the six years I've leased the property) and 
last Fall the whole area was treated with Roundup and deeply tilled!  Yet, there 
it is, seemingly none the worse for the experience!

As for the candidum, three things: probably free of virus; growing on a 
hillside (no question about drainage -- either of water or air; and lots of sun.  I 
would doubt that the soil was "strongly" acidic.  But whatever the pH may 
have been, it was probably buffered by the humus provided by decay of the annual 
leaf drop.  It is interesting about the soil part, though, as I've always read 
that this particular lily wants a pH definitely on the alkaline side, e.g., 
pH 8.0+.  As for the tallness, that may have been the reason the bulb was 
originally collected and, so, represented a variation from the norm even back then.

In another message, you mention L. canadense and cold winter temps.  There 
are probably fewer parts of the lower 48 that are as cold as Minnesota can be in 
an average winter.  North of the Twin Cities, east into Wisconsin and North 
in Minnesota and NW to North Dakota both L. canadense and L. michiganense are 
the glory of the roadside ditches along the country roads in early July.  They 
grow where there is plenty of moisture early in the growing season and under 
the right conditions of light and sunshine/exposure will reach six to seven 
feet in height with 20-30 flowers.  In August, most of these ditches are dry and 
the verdant grass and other forbs that are growing in those ditches provide 
shade to the base of the lily plants.  Captured and grown in "civilized" 
gardens, the plants are not as luxuriant, but they do survive and bloom enough to 
make of them worthwhile garden lilies.  Incidentally, they will intercross if man 
interferes in the process and I once had some seedlings from such a cross 
given to me by Louise Koehler.  The flowers were yellow, with the form of 
michiganense and spotted with canadense spots all over.

The superbum/michiganense/pardalinum complex of lilies stretches from the 
Eastern seaboard to the Western.  In all of that variety, one can find subjects 
that will do in most places, I would think.  In fact, a noted plantswoman in 
Pennsylvania by the name of Pauline Henry (I think) collected a range of the 
different forms of L. canadense along in the middle part of the last century.  In 
fact, Eddie grows a range of this species with the most spectacular ones 
being the half red and half yellow form -- six to seven feet and two dozen 
blooms.  He'll usually bring several stems to our local lily show and symposium in 
early July from his patch on Mt. Hood for us all to drool over!

All best,
Dave Karnstedt
Silverton, Oregon, USA
Cool Mediterranean climate, USDA Z7-8
email:  davekarn@aol.com

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