Dry summer lilies

Nathan Lange plantsman@comcast.net
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:03:11 PDT

Luther Burbank's California native lily breeding 
experiments spanned nearly 20 years in the late 
1800's and involved hundreds of thousands of 
field grown plants in or very near Sunset Climate 
Zone 14. Burbank's success is frequently viewed 
as the inspiration for Griffiths' later, more 
focused lily breeding program. The notion that 
Burbank acquired all his hundreds of thousands of 
field grown plants from Carl Purdy and staged his 
entire lily breeding program is mildly 
entertaining. I have never before encountered a 
Luther Burbank lily hybridization denier.

The interest in California native lilies is 
definitely on the rise in the San Francisco Bay 
area and I regularly run into lily enthusiasts 
who are successfully growing numerous species. As 
with so many California native bulb plants worth 
growing, drainage is always the indispensable key 
to success and "horticultural perlite" is seldom 
part of the solution. Many species have 
spectacular flowers, unbelievably high bud 
counts, amazing fragrance, wide variability, and 
exquisite glaucous blooms covering their wavy 
foliage. It's always an incredible site to see 
magnificent flowering plants in the wild towering 
above one's head. Good "garden plants?" 
Definitely not, but worth growing nonetheless.

Nathan


At 04:52 PM 4/7/2015, you wrote:
>I would be very wary of any early twentieth 
>century claims that the western North American 
>lilies were being successfully grown as garden 
>plants. Why? Because Carl Purdy ran a brisk 
>trade in collected plants. A lot of the 
>gardeners I know seem to think that "easily 
>grown" means the same thing as " readily 
>replaced". The typical bulb catalog is filled 
>with plants which many gardeners mistakenly 
>regard as "easily grown" when what they mean is 
>"easily replaced". Just look at what happened 
>to bulb culture here in the United States during 
>the quarantine years early in the twentieth 
>century.There was one very successful exception: 
>David Griffiths' hybridization of lilies which 
>purportedly were derived ultimately from L. 
>humboldtii x L. pardalinum. Those plants existed 
>by the thousands (maybe tens of thousands) at 
>the peak of Griffiths' program. And they 
>disappeared shortly after Griffiths' death 
>except for certain selected clones, some of 
>which survived for a few more decades.  Jim 
>McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA 
>zone 7, where spring is quickly approaching its 
>most beguiling. Â 
>Â 
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