Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lily Flower Colors During Hot Weather

'Amarossi' - during a foggy August morning.
 Some elements can be manipulated, others cannot.

The color intensity of lily flowers can be variable from year to year and garden to garden, based on soil pH, weather and the type of fertilizer used for nutrients.

Whether your soil is "sweet" (alkaline) or "sour" (Acid), you can make temporary adjustments to pH in several ways.

In the Western States, where soil is naturally more acid, no further treatments are necessary because most lilies are happy with our native conditions.  Martagon lilies, being of European descent with more alkaline soil conditions, would like the addition of lime to raise the pH.

Common sulfur, ferrous sulfate and aluminum sulfate are quick "fixes" for soil that is too alkaline, but regular use of compost and manure is also a good choice because it will also improve your soil's texture.

Trace Minerals applied every few years also seems to help to brighten flower color,  plus helps your plants utilize fertilizer more effectively. 

We cannot do anything about the weather, but if you plant purebred Oriental lilies, pink and melon colored Trumpets, or pink colored Asiatics - all which have thinner cell color layers -  in afternoon shade, it will help keep flowers from being bleached by the sun before the buds open.   Cold and wet springs can also tweak colors, flower size and stem height.  Lilies can be heat sensitive during unusual weather - so with a short "spring" that goes directly into warm summer - stems will be shorter and flowers smaller.  During long mild spring weather - such as in the Northwest most years - stems will grow taller and might need staking, especially if planted in light shade. 

'Circus' during warm weather seems to keep the melon accent on each petal quite well  in our acid soil.  Very warm climates, especially coupled with more alkaline soil, the flowers may tend to lighter in color.

Sun plays a BIG factor in the color green.  'Tribbano' - possibly available this fall - is a stunning lime green when the blooms first open, but within a few hours of sun, all open flowers change to an even creamy white with green nectaries.  During 90-100 degree weather, the green tint might not show at all.

'Graffity' is another easy to grow Asiatic lily that open green with purple splotches and speckles, then mellows to creamy yellow in warmer climates or during hotter summers.  Planting in light shade will help to maintain the green hues.

 'Muscadette' during very cool weather (low 60's) shows a nice bright pink stripe down each petal and dark red pink spots.

During periods of warmer weather (85-100 degrees), 'Muscadette' will be paler in comparison, with even its speckles not being quite as pronounced.

Because many of our gardening friends are in warmer climates than us, this lighter colored image will also be used in future catalogs.

(UPDATE: 8.5.13)

After three days of drizzle, rain and overcast days, our summer reverted back to the normal foggy August mornings that stay cool, until about 11am, before the sun emerges and the temperature rises.  Notice how the pink centers are darker when the days are in the low 70s, but not as intense when the days are colder (first photo)?  'Muscadette' has strongly upfacing flowers when first planted, but older plants will also have outfacing blossoms.  

These three examples of 'Muscadette' clearly show the role the sun plays in color intensity of Oriental lilies in the garden.  Locating the sweetly scented Orientals in afternoon shade does help to retain the pink hues.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lily Review: The Many Faces of 'Lankon'

Row of Lankon near packing barn.

Lankon’ was the first of its kind to be offered to the garden marketbred from the Japanese species L. longiflorum  (Easter Lily) and the Chinese species L. lankongense  found in the alpine areas of the Yunnan Province. Now after two more years of field growing, she has become rather mysterious.

Breeding Background

Shown to the public for the first time at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London in the spring of 2011, ‘Lankon’ scored as one of the most popular exhibits at that show. Although L. lankongense was bred successfully in the past with other Asiatic hybrids and Asiatic classification type species, this was a first with the Easter Lily (L. longiflorum) and was made possible through embryo rescue under laboratory conditions. This is a process where seed embryos are removed from the seed capsule itself, and then is grown on in a test tube agar solution, because the seed does not contain enough endosperm to nourish the emerging embryo to the cotyledon (first leaf) stage.  (Popcornit is the endosperm that expands when “popped”.)

Range of individual flower colors in Lankon.

What is this?
The big surprise this summer as 'Lankon' began to unfurl, was that something genetically had changed. 'Lankon' was sporting many new and wonderful faces in our field and we quickly suspected that she might be a "Chimera". As this should not be surprising considering this is a cross that in nature would never have happened, it not only was surprising, but also is truly wonderful. No two stems are exactly alike, in fact, flowers on some stems can differ from each another as well. 

About half in our field have green nectaries.

There are flowers that are almost a solid purple, some are heavy purple on half the flower, and with lighter spots on the other half, and even barely spotted flowers. The great thing is IT ALL WORKS! They are beautiful together and the changing scene from one day to the next is eagerly looked forward to each morning.

So, what is a Chimera?

In mythology, chimeras are commonly represented as monsters sporting a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.  In the Plant Kingdom, actual chimeras are typically a single organism (in this case, a lily bulb), composed of two genetically different types of tissue.  As in animals, botanical chimeras usually originate from the same zygote—an extremely rare occurrence most often due to mutation during ordinary cell division;  because the specimen has more than one type of genetic material in its make up, any viable seeds the plant produces will not be ‘true to type’.  Thus, the propagation of chimerical lilies can only be achieved through vegetative methods. B&D Lilies introduced it's first Chimera 'Janus' in 2012, which was the results of breeding work done by Len Sherwin of Hyatteville, Wyoming. To have another show up the following year is truly remarkable. Len named 'Janus' for the two-faced Roman god of “beginnings and transitions”.
Another Chimera, 'Janus', with more variances.
In over 30 years of viewing literally several million seedlings of various breeders, 'Janus' was only the third chimera that we at B&D had encountered. The first two that showed up in a bed of seedlings bred by the late Don Egger, were “sickly” appearing and were quickly discarded. 'Janus' was a chance seedling  raised by Len in the course of his life-long passion of hybridizing lilies, and was a first for him as well. We debated with Len the pros and cons before introducing ‘Janus’—unsure there would be any interest at all in this oddity.  We finally decided that the opportunity to share this novelty with other lily enthusiasts shouldn’t be ignored, and now it appears we may have a spontaneous Chimera in 'Lankon'.  

What will the bloom of 2014 and 2015 bring?  

What new secrets will 'Lankon' reveal?  We plan to propagate the most diverse flower forms, from the darkest purple to the lightly spotted creamy whites. Will they continue changing appearance as they mature, or will them tend to imitate their mother bulbs from which their scales were removed? Only time will tell as this is uncharted territory. If the deepest colored forms hold true in the next generation, then a new name will be a must for those selections. If they revert back to the 'Lankon' of yesteryear in the next few generations, then they will continue to carry the 'Lankon' name. We love what we do, now completing our 35th year with Lilies, and it is the little surprises like this that add to our wonder and love of the genus Lilium.

Farm is not open to visitors - and why.

This time of year generally brings inquiries about when our farm is open to see the lilies. 

We are a working farm and decided to close the field to visitors 6 years ago - after 27 years of being open all summer.  We were having concerns about privacy and security; some people were treating our home as a public park, so you can imagine the troubles there.  Not to mention the difficulty with people picking "one of a kind" flowers out of the seedling rows to ask their "name".  Makes it a bit hard to do photography or select out new lilies for introduction when flowers go "missing" just at their peak.

If you do not have a copy of our catalog, an electronic version (Flipbook) can be found on our home page, or if you are in the continental USA or in Alaska, we are taking catalog requests for the Spring 2014 printed catalog here.  For visiting with gardeners in person,  also attend several Home & Garden shows, plus major Flower and Garden shows in the Pacific Northwest.

When Mother Nature is generous with rainfall

It is usually easier to add moisture,  than take it away.  
We have received reports of high rainfall in areas of the country that has caused caused concern for gardeners.  There have been yellow leaves on lower portion of lily stems that fall off, smaller flowers this year and even "no-shows" in some cases.  If even your established lilies are showing any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to check the moisture content of your garden now.  Additions of moisture-retentive peat, manure or compost around the bulb when planting tends to keep the soil wetter than lilies are able to use.  If you are seeing yellow leaves, cut back on summertime watering.  

If Mother Nature has dropped abundant water too often on your garden, remove any mulch surrounding the lilies to allow the soil to dry faster as a quick fix.   Only water when your soil is dry one inch or two below the surface, and then leave the water on long enough, so the ground is moist 6 to 8 inches deep.  Your shrubs and trees will also appreciate the deep watering, which will help them to tolerate periods of drought.

Correct questionable drainage by making a raised bed.
Clay soil with sluggish percolation is a reality for many gardeners on flat terrain. Provided your garden is not covered by stagnant water for extended periods of time, abundant rainfall with good drainage allows oxygen-filled water to wash over the roots. Lilies can tolerate a lot of moisture for a short time. By slightly raising the planting area so that the bulbs themselves are above ground level, their roots may still penetrate into waterlogged soil and the survival of your choice cultivars will be ensured. The basal plates (bottom) of larger bulbs may be 8 to 10 inches below the surface; therefore your raised area should be about 12 inches high for best results.  

Choose a sunny site for your new lily bed this summer. It is not necessary to lift turf, but persistent roots of bindweed, thistle or other difficult to eradicate weeds require removal. Outline the area with landscape timbers or used railroad ties, pounding 12 to 18 inch long sections of pipe or "rebar" into the ground to steady the wood, and back fill with fresh topsoil, amended as mentioned earlier. To keep moles, voles, gophers and other tunneling varmints out of the bed, lay down 1/4" galvanized wire cloth from the hardware store before setting your landscape timbers on top, bringing the wire up around the outside of the wood. Using "horseshoe nails" or heavy wire staples used on fences, attach the woven wire to the outside of the timbers, using soil or creeping plants to soften the edges and hide the barrier.

Although coarse sand can be added for additional drainage, Perlite is a better choice for a lighter mixture. If moles, voles or gophers are abundant in your area, place a barrier of 1/2 inch galvanized hardware cloth on top of the ground, installing your timbers on each end. If your new bed is wider than the barrier screen, overlap the wire by one or two inches. On large raised beds, mound soil higher in the center, sloping down to one inch below the height of the timbers on the edge. If desired, plant short-growing Hemerocallis with daffodil bulbs in the outer 12 inches for a unified border. These smaller daylilies will hide the decaying foliage of the spring bulbs, plus soften the appearance of the timbers with color and green foliage throughout the summer and fall. For newly constructed beds in late summer, wait at least one year before planting new lily bulbs in fall if you are in a more severe climate, to allow the soil to settle. In an emergency, you can use a thick layer of mulch (12 inches of straw, etc.) over the beds for winter in colder climates - removing it during spring thaw -  to help insulate the lilies before the soil has compacted enough.  In milder climates, Zone 7 and higher, no mulch over winter is necessary.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Color differences in Seed-grown Trumpet Lilies

Lilium regale variance

Some lilies are known as "Strains", having been grown from seed for diversity and low cost production.  The second or third year will find bulbs that have divided on their own, plus the grower may plant back any stem bulblets produced in that time, adding several "Clones" to the group. Over time, the strongest and most eager bulbs will dominate.

Lilium regale
The white lily pictured is Lilium regale, the top photo shows a young stem,  in the 2nd year of growth from seed.  The two bottom photos are part of the mix and  even if they had been grown from the same pod, there can be slight differences in the petal "reverse" color.  Although a particularly warm summer may fade the pink coloration so that it almost fades away, these two were grown side by side in the same row.

Yearling bulb from the 'Golden Splendor' Strain

Heirloom Trumpets

The highly scented 'Golden Splendor', 'Pink Perfection' and 'Copper King' are all lilies that were at one time "clones", meaning each bulb was genetically alike and without variance.  The seed stock that produced them was from a group of trumpet lilies purchased by Jan DeGraaf in the early 1960's from Mr. LeVern Freimann of Bellingham, WA. 

Yearling bulbs from the 'Copper King' Strain

Further refinements
Jan de Graaf crossed the most promising seedlings back and forth until finally producing a reliable and uniform group of lilies that did show some differences between the flowers, but had very similar colors.

'Golden Splendor' Strain were the yellow to gold trumpets with a pink to brown petal reverse.  'Moonlight' Strain had  green petal reverses, 'Copper King' Strain tended to be yellow-melon to orange with a dark reverse and 'Pink Perfection' Strain was in all shades of light to dark pink to near purple.

All of the old-fashioned Trumpet flowers, except for those of 'Golden Splendor' and 'Moonlight' Strains tended to fade after a few days in hot, direct sun.  The darkest pink to purple clones made up the 'Midnight' Strain, which still would become lighter with age, but overall remained the most colorful of these older lilies.

The original clones were kept for seed production, under number, and were not released.  After Cebeco Lilies of Aurora, OR - now gone as well - purchased all the breeding stock, a few of the important breeding clones (seed parents) were finally made available to other hybridizers.

Tiny white edge on a seedling, will it fade away?

Making new selections
Currently, it appears that all of those important seed parents have now been lost for commerce, but when individual seedlings showing the original genetic characteristics are found, they are tagged for future use.

For example, the purple seedling on the right had a tiny white edge upon first opening, something that could easily be missed during a quick inspection.  Will it's overall color fade quickly in the sun because the layer of color is thin or will it be lighter next year?  Those are questions that need to be answered before a selection is made for further study.  This particular plant was tagged, because even though the edge disappeared, the dark purple color muted to an evenly shaded, dusty lavender-purple and the overall shape of the flowers was quite pleasing.  Only another two years will tell how tall the mature stem might be.

Future availability
Although general mixes of 'Golden Splendor' Strain and 'Pink Perfection' Strain are offered from time to time, 'Copper King' and 'Midnight' are being slowly increased and will not be available again for another year or two.  The brighter colors of all these old-fashioned Trumpet lilies are best shown in the highly acidic soil and cooler summers of the Western States, in the more alkaline areas of the Midwest and East, colors will not be as intense, even during cooler summers.  For the Midwestern states, we recommend 'Eudoxa' for melon color with shorter, sturdier stems, and 'Bellsong' for a good, heat-tolerant pink.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Convenient B&D Lilies' Electronic Duo

Quick & Easy Order Blank
Quick order form Your catalog just arrived in the mail and you already know what you want? On this page, you simply click each box as you scroll down, then click the upload to cart button at the bottom. The lilies are listed in somewhat the same order as the catalog pages, so you can simply flip through your paper copy and add everything on your "wish list" at once.  When you click on "Add checked items to shopping cart", everything will be transferred at one time, where you can change the quantities to take advantage of multiple pricing, plus add or delete items. Click here for the Website Order Blank
Electronic "Flipbook"
Don't have a paper copy of our catalog?  The electronic version of our Fall 2013 book can be viewed on your computer screen in an interactive format.  Each variety name is a link to our website, but for faster ordering, open a window in your browser for both the "Quick & Easy Order Blank" and the "Flipbook version" of the catalog. This does require a bit wider monitor or really good eyesight.  Some of our lilies have additional photos or an extended description on the website, but many people find the simple catalog description to be more convenient.