Monday, August 22, 2011

‘Conca d’ Or’ Lily Bulbs – Garden Review

Planted next to finch feeders and photographed in our display garden for their March 2003 issue, Sunset Magazine featured ‘Conca d’ Or’ for its garden worthiness.  Then as well as now, it has proven to be an outstanding lily and has spread its way around the world for long-lasting flowers and impressive stature. 
Suitable for all climate zones in North America bulbs require less winter cold to reset the bulbs for flowering than most Orienpet lilies and do well in zone 9 and even into zone 10 where the lowest winter temperatures just touch freezing – afternoon shade is advised.In the Midwestern States, as with any other scented lily, use a layer of winter mulch after the soil has frozen at least 3 to 4 inches deep so rodents will not tunnel under your mulch and eat the bulbs.  No winter mulch is required zones 6 and above, although a light 1 to 2 inch mulch will help reduce winter germinating weeds.  Pull away mulch should you experience heavy rainfall or rapidly melting snow when soil is thawed to allow your garden to evaporate moisture quickly.

The large flowers are out-to slightly up facing, bright lemon with pale - almost ivory - petal tips and have an excellent substance, which means they last a long time on the stem or as a cut flower.  We’ve found ‘Conca d’ Or’ best planted in a group to liven up a section of garden near outdoor living areas, showcasing their lingering, sweet fragrance.  Plants typically are 4 to 5 feet tall but in light shade but expect 6-footers when planted in loose fluffy soil and two to three inches of compost or manure is spread around the stems midsummer or early fall to keep the soil surface from crusting and becoming hard.  On established stems in our garden (as shown above) the first buds are ready to open in late July to early August and the flowers slowly open from bottom to top over a period of 3 to 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Stalks are robust and do not need staking in our full sun garden despite the variable wind in our narrow valley between two high rocky cliffs near forest service land bordering the Olympic National Park.  Our flock of Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) and Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) sit on the topmost unopened buds before swooping in for a turn at the “upside down” feeders which adds motion to the garden and is quite entertaining. However, the much larger Redwing Blackbirds would also perch on top of the buds waiting their turn at the regular feeders and outside of a few puncture marks from "toenails," these sturdy lilies were never harmed in any way.  

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