Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lilium 'Painted Ladies'

Several years ago, I was fascinated by a "new" offering in Jelitto's latest catalogue listed as Lilium Martagon-Hybr. 'Painted Ladies'. The photograph showed an arrangement of stems consisting of flowers in an interesting assortment of colours.

I was somewhat familiar with L. martagon (Martagon or Turk's Cap Lily) and knew it was a valuable plant in the garden, particularly in areas of dry shade. Nursery production of the species or its white-flowered form 'Album' was seemingly difficult from the usual "bareroot" bulb method. Seed propagation I understood, would be moderately difficult, and plants would take at least a couple of years to mature to flowering size. For these intriguing 'Painted Ladies' however, I believed that the extra effort would ultimately be rewarding.

Following is what flowered this spring, from plants that were originally sown in 2006, and planted into my garden in 2008. Needless to say, I'm very impressed with these plants!
The book Lilies by Edward Austin McRae indicates that 'Painted Ladies' was developed by Edgar Kline of Oregon, and involves crosses between L. martagon (several forms), L. hansonii and L. medeoloides.

Unfortunately, production of this fabulous strain appears to be very limited.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

Mark, the coolplantsguy

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In its Native Habitat

Despite our best efforts as gardeners, at duplicating what we see in nature, and improving upon it with our own combinations and patterns, there is something wonderfully majestic about observing a favourite plant in its native habitat.

Such was the case a few weeks back, when I saw a beautiful stand of Aquilegia canadensis, the Canadian Columbine, on wooded and rocky outcrops along Twiss Road, just north of Burlington, Ontario.
The self-sowing tendencies of this plant were evident with several plants established on various levels of the outcrop, as well as in an actual row alongside the road. In my garden, I let it do its thing amongst Hostas, ferns and Martagon Lilies.

I've long been enamoured by this plant, preferring its grace and subtle beauty over the larger-flowered modern hybrids. Phillips and Rix state that it is pollinated by hummingbirds.
More recently, the dwarf strain 'Little Lanterns' has been very impressive, as well as the newer 'Pink Lanterns'.
Interestingly, Jelitto and Schacht record several forms of the species: "albiflora with white flowers, flaviflora flowers entirely yellow, and phippenii sepals pink, petals yellow" which must have been used to create the newer seed strains.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

Mark, the coolplantsguy