Thursday, July 30, 2009

If it's July, it's time for lilies...

One of my favorite things at the country fair is the flower building. I love to see the flower arrangements in competition and the blooms that people enter for a chance to win a ribbon endorsement on their gardening skills.

I've previously posted about my love for irises, but I love lilies even more. Right now.

July is lily month.

On the last night of county fair, I always visit the flower building when people are picking up their entries. You would not believe how many people dump their gorgeous fair-worthy flowers into the garbage can and take home an empty vase.

I am not too proud to indulge in the ultimate of dumpster diving- Flower Foraging in the country fair garbage cans. Mostly I am after the multi-bloomed, heavenly scented oriental lilies. These blue ribbon winners usually have 12-14 large gorgeous flowers on one stem. This Casablanca white lily was discarded at the fair!

One long stem with all these blooms was smashed down in the can under other flowers. I couldn't resist it though some of the flowers were rumpled or crushed. I salvaged the rest, cutting the blooms off the stem and placing them in a shallow container. What colors! Such fragrance! People who throw away such beauty should be punished somehow. But if they didn't commit this atrocity I wouldn't get to take them home for myself...

Inspired every summer by these stunners grown by blue-ribbon gardeners, I decided I needed to try to grow oriental lilies myself. I bought premium bulbs at the Portland garden shows and planted about a dozen Casablancas and Stargazers.

The next summer- nothing.

Some underground critter with buck teeth dined on my lily bulbs.

The next year I bought more bulbs and tried again. This time I wrapped the bulbs in chicken wire before planting.

I have had some modest success. I am still waiting for buds to open but I know that there are not the number of stems out there that I originally planted. And each stem has two or three buds, not 12-14 like the giants I see at the fair. But that's okay. These lilies are still beautiful.

The first lilies I ever planted here were these orange day lilies. I did this because I was from Michigan and didn't know any better. These are the standard, grow-in-every-road-side-ditch, day lily in Michigan.

I also planted this much more exotic "Tiger Lily", also ubiquitous in Michigan gardens.

After I settled into being an Oregonian and started doing garden tours and attending garden shows, I realized there is a wide world of lilies out there.

Since I can't have just one of anything in my gardens (see Irises above, also rhodies, hostas, etc.)
you can guess what has happened:

Oooo.... dark pink day lilies!

Red Asiatic lilies...

...yellow ones....

...lemon lime day lilies...

Not sure about this one. I never plant orange things any more but they keep happening to me.
Pretty anyway.

I just looked out the window to see if any new buds had opened. Yes!

An oriental of forgotten name. Only two buds.

I need to remind this magnolia tree that is it July.
It is confused. Maybe it wants to be a lily.

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