Lilies: One of My Favorite Summer Flowers

– Posted in: Garden Plants

It’s probably not a very cutting edge thing to say in today’s fast paced world of horticulture. But I’ll say it anyway. I’m still a sucker for lilies. This includes both daylilies as well as oriental and asian lilies.

When I first began gardening, a friend of mine brought over a huge bucket of daylilies and advised me to plant them in the sun. Needless to say, they took off with abandon! The thing I love most about daylilies….besides the fact that they fill in huge patches of empty space readily, complement practically any plants with which they are paired, come in a wide array of colors and continue to bloom endlessly (as long as the dead stalks are removed)….is that they can be planted anywhere. I truly mean that. When I first started planting them in partial shade and then onward into deep shade, I wondered what would happen. Well, I’ve never been let down! Regardless of the soil, moisture or sun/shade conditions, these stalwarts of the garden add a richness and glory to practically any garden I’ve ever seen.

In doing a bit of reading about daylilies, I was surprised to discover that it is a genus of only 13-15 species . But what really took me by surprise is that Hemerocallis has over 50,000 named cultivars. I remember when I first saw a red daylily, I thought that it was unusual and a bit ‘avant garde’. I had been used to the pale peaches, crisp yellows and tangerine shades of ‘Stella de Oro’. But whoever thought that we would be privy to daylilies with palettes that include soft pinks and lavenders? One of my favorites, ‘Catherine Woodbury’, is described by Alan Russell of Russell Gardens as ‘orchid lavender-pink with a lime green throat’. It is an absolutely divine perennial that looks breathtaking with burgundy leaved plants.

When it comes to Lilies (Lilium), I don’t know remember which ones I order from year to year. All I know is that when I start perusing Brent and Becky’s Bulb catalogue, I invariably end up putting some check marks next to more than a few varieties of lilies. I ultimately purchase whatever colors I am most focused on accentuating in my garden that year.

Boogie Woogie Lily with Golden Hops Vine (Humulus)This year, I bought ‘Boogie Woogie’, an Oriental/Trumpet lily which is described as creamy. But I would call it pale yellow. It can be treated as a ‘basic’ color in the garden, able to be positioned in a vignette with plants of any color. Although it may be unconventional, I like to position the tall lilies closer to the front of a border. Because they have such a lean stature, they can afford to be ‘in your face’, especially with the scent that they offer as one walks past them. When they are in full bloom, they deserve to get all the attention that they crave!

Red Hot Lily next to banana plant and persicariaI also chose another Oriental/Trumpet called ‘Red Hot’ this spring. In the catalogue, either Brent or Becky describe it as not being red at all but as ‘HOT’, the color of a really hot, glowing fire. Well, I’ve got to tell you that my ‘Red Hot’ lilies certainly are not hot. BUT they are dreamy and lovely.

So, the next time you’re at your nursery and you give a yawn as you quickly pass by the classic, enduring daylilies and rush on to check out the latest ‘must have’ perennials, take a few moments to reflect what will serve your garden best in the long run. I bet at least some of the time that lilies or daylilies will end up in your cart.

And for those of you who are daylily or lily lovers, send us links to any photos that you’ve compiled of your collection so that others can get on to your site to see your beauties.

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Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin

Fran Sorin

Fran Sorin
Fran Sorin

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