Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Presentation Of Lilies

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Not too quiet at 4:30 this morning here on the mountain. For some reason there is heavy snoring competition going on in our house and Karl the Wonder Dog is one of the three competitors. It's probably well that I woke up during the competition as I have to move the tractor back to the nursery this morning and it's best to get going before the traffic begins to get busy.

This is lily time in Vermont and surprisingly, the presentation is gorgeous despite the cool weather and heavy rains which often complicate good flowering with botrytis and other fungus type problems. The bloom started around Fourth of July with the native Lilium canadense (directly above and just below inc. red variety) and the beautiful martagons. It continues now with the various Asiatics, the longiflorum hybrids, and early Orientals. The few trumpets we have left are mixed in someplace here and the Oriental-trumpet crosses, the orienpets, are not too far behind.

If you have followed our flower journey over the years, you recall that up until last year, we always presented gardeners with a super selection of potted lilies. Perhaps eight years ago now, maybe a little longer, we were one of the top lily retailers in New England. I came across a photo a few weeks back that I'll have to find again to post as it shows our old nursery with our house completely surrounded by thousands of potted lilies. That's the way it was when lilies were king here.

With the planned move to a new nursery last year, Gail and I decided we just could not deal adequately with the lily leaf beetle. If you search this blog and our former Vermont Gardens blog (use search option in upper left corner) you will find information about this insidious insect. Try for some info and pictures. For gardeners with a few lilies, perhaps hand picking is a good option but when you're growing in the thousands you want plants to be insect free and for that to happen, the challenge was near impossible and we disbanded a beautiful plant from sales.

For many gardeners, growing lilium is a "must do" and they are willing to exchange the use of strong chemicals with the luxury of nice blooms. We are not. We enjoy birds and bees and butterflies too much to spread chemicals at the level that would have been needed to control three annual generations of lily beetle. So for us, it means enjoying our lilies as they continue in our gardens, for as long as they live on their own. The beetles defoliate the stems and over time this weakens the plants, the bulbs shrink in size and finally they succumb to an inability to replace food matter with bulb size to live in Vermont's climate. That's just a reality. So for now, here are pictures of a few still showing in the gardens. Our good friend Winnie, our Chief of Hydrological Services, lives down the road four miles. She maintains a very nice representation of our lilies and does so through rigorous hand picking and use of dormant oil spray. For Gail and me, a visit during our busy schedule is a reminder to where we were a few years back. It's certainly not the same as looking out your window to your own gardens but that's just how it is.
Here are some pictures.

Asiatic named Update

Tiger Babies, a strong grower

Shiraz, an Asiatic

Mona Lisa, 18"-24" tall Oriental. One of the first Orientals to bloom here.

Asiatic Lollypop, well known, well distributed, quick to reproduce in large clumps

Golden Torch, a Longiflorum-Asiatic cross. Large flowers.

Arena, a strong Oriental that has been with us for over ten years. Someone should study the genetics of this one.

For this morning, these thoughts of lilies will have to suffice to jump start your day. I hope your gardens are doing well and you are enjoying this gardening season.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the snoring festival has subsided and I have to get moving. Stop and see us if you have some time. 2263 US Route 2 Marshfield, VT. The daylily field is intense and there's no way you can miss the color as you travel Route 2.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm Our easy to use web site for ordering plants when you aren't close enough to visit. A daylily order will not disappoint you!


lynn'sgarden said...

Just beautiful! Every single color and design! I planted more martagons last year than what is actually showing up..'something' must have enjoyed the bulbs! Yes, please find that picture ;)

MayApple said...

Just want to let you know that your 4:30 am writings are a joy to read. No matter what the season, you put into words the joy,annoyance and surprise of being a Northern New Englander gardener.
Your photos of lush plants on a bitter January day have kept me from casting stones at the weather outside.
I hope to get over your way soon...

Carol said...

Is that a turks cap lily ? Your first lily there? sorry I am sure you say but I could not make it out. I do not have snoring contest here but the birds are much quieter... alas... past midsummer and this always happens. If it were not for my blueberries and viburnum berries most would be gone by now. Do you sell that first lily on this post? My lilies have been eaten to dwarf states by the leaf beetle or the voles have wiped them out all together. Sounds lovely on your mountain top ... writing.

George Africa said...

Hello All;

Thanks for the comments. Lilies are beautiful flowers and it was difficult to make the decision to stop growing them after all these years. We just have this bad feeling about use of chemicals and every day we live with autism in our family and still don't really know the cause. Maybe chemicals, maybe not.

Yes Carol, that's a L. canadense which is one of the Turk's cap types. I will be posting pictures of the larger L. superbum in a day or two.


Linda S. said...

Such a shame about the lily beetle; I only recently heard about it - I'm on the W. coast. Your photos are lovely & I agree with you about no chemicals. I quit using them many years ago & the increase of my bird population & beneficial bugs is tremendous.