Friday, June 11, 2010

Plant of the Day: Lilium

This is Lilium martagon, commonly called martagon lily or Turk's cap lily.

I've come to realize the flowers I like most are the ones that other people miss. I would guess it's why most of us love horticulture as much as we do. In addition to our instinctual tendencies towards nature because we realize we too are biological creatures within that we have found the true holy grail, endless discovery! You start with the things you've never seen before, in my case weird cacti and succulents, bold tropical plants, orchids. The world over we want to grow the things we can't because they feed that exotic fantasy. And then we kill enough of those plants we begin to look at our own landscape. The showy trees and shrubs were first place for me. Driving around my home town with my friend Nisse we would constantly be pointing out new plants people had that we could identify from the street. Eyes read the landscape differently now, backed by botanical latin. And then you get into botany. You realize you have to crawl underneath that big leaf to see the Asarum flower that is red and lays on the ground because it is beetle pollinated. Little native orchids pop in sun splashed woodlands so you have to be sure to take the evening walk with your head down instead of up, reading the leaf litter. Amidst the big, chunky texture of the Rodgersia and oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) that get all the attention you spot a single lily. It's loose inflorescence of 2" flowers were missed, but not by these eyes.

Lilium martagon:
-commonly called martagon lily or Turk's cap lily
-native from Europe to Mongolia
-perennial bulb grows to 3-8' tall
(the one I spotted was in the 3'-4' range)
-broad leaves in whorls with flower spike of multiple blooms
("whorls" are when all the leaves on a stem radiate from the same node - see above)
-flowers purple-pink with amazing recurved petals, darker spots, and only 2" across
("recurved" petals mean they arch backwards away from the center of the flower)
-comfortably hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9
-flowers in early summer
-grow in sun - part shade in well-draining organic rich soil.
A lot of references and web forums mention how well it naturalizes and adds to mixed borders and perennial beds and I don't doubt it. This one is definitely going on the list for when I finally have a yard and garden of my own. lengthy list for what will probably be a tiny piece of property. Ha!

1 comment:

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