AS I WRITE THIS, the air is gorgeously perfumed at A Garden for the House, because my Oriental Hybrid lilies, ‘Casa Blanca’ and ‘Star Gazer,’ are in bloom. What impeccable timing these towering treasures possess! Appearing on the dot the last week of July, they provide a burst of color just when many other perennials are beginning to wane.
‘Casa Blanca,’ above, an enchanting, pure-white variety, lights up the vinca bed on the north side of my potting shed. Its huge, star-shaped flowers are spicy sweet and outward-facing. Stems are 3-feet tall, and very sturdy; they require no staking.
‘Star Gazer,’ deep pink with darker-pink flecks and a white margin, also thrives in a northern location here, behind my garden shed. This one, too, is intensely fragrant. Unlike ‘Casa Blanca,’ its flowers are upward-facing, a definite benefit for flower-arrangers. I have found this lily’s 4-foot stems do require support.
Oriental hybrids are not difficult to grow. Procure bulbs in autumn, and be prepared to plant them immediately. They perform best in rich, well-draining soil, and in a location that receives just a few hours of sun. One bulb will produce one stem the first year, and more the next and subsequent years. You can expect up to 8 gorgeous flowers per stem. Bulbs are hardy in zones 3-8.
You do not, of course, have to grow your own lilies in order to enjoy their beauty. Stems of both Casa Blanca and Star Gazer can almost always be found in flower shops. Ask the florist to snip off the yellow anthers; the pollen from these will stain any surface it touches.
Are you a lily-lover, too? I hope certainly hope so. Really, you can’t beat ‘Star Gazer’ and ‘Casa Blanca’ for beauty and use, both indoors and out.
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