Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seed Collection

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Evening news is just finishing up and the rain is coming down. The temperature in Burlington, less than 65 miles from here as the crow flies, has dropped 20 degrees in the past hour. The 54 degrees here at 6 PM is now 45.9. The wind is holding a steady 5 miles per hour. Yellow leaves from the sugar maples are swirling past the window in big rushes of color. Unclothed maples will prevail tomorrow morning. Weather changes lots of things.

Up top is a picture of a native Vermont lily, Lilium canadense. I have always loved these lilies which bloom around July 4th here. The are ever so slow to start from seed as they need a couple freeze-thaw cycles to germinate. Gardeners who bought some from me perhaps ten years ago still ask for more so I decided I needed to build up a supply. We're talking several years from seed to first flower so other than love for flowers, there's no getting rich growing these from seed.

Two weeks back I thought I had probably missed the opening of the seed pods but then reminded myself how late the flowers were this year with colder temperatures and constant rain through July. I set out to some sites where I have fairly regularly snapped the pods and planted the seeds, along stream beds and damp field beds. This time, the number of pods, as yet unopened, was a surprise.

My typical procedure is to take the best pod off the stem, open it, check for apparent seed viability, and then plant those seeds in close proximity to where I took it. My thinking has always been to try to keep certain colonies together. There is a little variation among the canadense I look at each year but I find the way they are developing over the years quite interesting. In no place do dozens of reds or dozens of clear and spotless flowers appear but the changes are nice to see.

If you decide to search some out, it's too late now, especially around here with the storm that's coming up. Check with me in a couple years and I'll share the progress report. In the meantime, enjoy the picture up top. There's a swamp spider of sorts on the backside.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where I saw 2 loons tonight close to the fishing access as they searched for dinner. They'll be heading out in November.

Fall gardening wishes!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


garden girl said...

Takes some patience growing them George, but they're beautiful and worth the wait. How fortunate you are to have the space to let nature do some of the work for you getting them ready for sale.

We're at 53 degrees with rain all day - still feeling and looking more like November than October.

~ ANNE said...

George another one I tweeted! Under beautiful native Vermont Lilly!! Your shots are superb! ~ ANNE

lynn'sgarden said...

These seed pods are as cool as the blooms! Okay, we'll check with you in a few years for!

I did grow some canadense lilies last fall but critters must have eaten the bulbs as I don't remember seeing any blooms. Do they take a few years to mature...?

Connie said...

All good things come to those who wait. :-) Those glorious flowers look to be worth the wait.
I enjoyed seeing your gorgeous fall colors in your previous post. said...

I should have said there is a quicker way to reproduce lilies than by seeds and that's by scaling the bulbs. Lily bulbs grow in a couple ways. The familiar asiatic, oriental, longiflorum crosses remind me of fish scales, one on top of another from the base of the bulb up to the top. If you gently pull off each scale and plant it, they will callous over and form a tiny new bulb and root system at the base of each scale where it had been attached to the mother bulb. They will actually grow quite fast and around here will be a good looking lily in 3 years. Some folks put the scales in a bag with a hormone type rooting powder but really this prevents death by fungus more than expediting rooting a whole bunch.

The species lilies like our canadense and superbum are more of a dog bone shaped bulb and at opposite ends of the bone shape they grow miniature bulbs. You can easily break these off and line them out or pot up in large pots until they mature. If I had the time I could sell a ton of these each year if they were in bloom and gardeners could quickly relate to them. In the gardening business, it's always a question of hours in the day and return on investment of money and that precious time. I'm happy to see others are interested in and have grown these lilies.