Monday, January 3, 2011

I'll have the double-double...or NOT

Nah, I'm not talking about my recent encounter with an In and Out burger for the first time EVER! (animal style with a strawberry shake, mind you)

But, I'm talking lilies. Double-flowered lilies. Double-flowered ORIENTAL LILIES. Double double...okay, you get the idea.

Now, double flowered lilies aren't all that new. They've been around for quite some time and they're usually the result of one of mother nature's "accidents" and breeders have come along and selected those that have converted/fused some of their stamens into tepals creating a sterile pollen-free "abomination of nature" that's ridiculously cool and, hey, pollen free so I can cut them for arrangements without worrying about staining the tablecloths or getting plant sperm on my nose.

Most of the doubles that have been on the market have mostly been Asiatic lilies. They're the ones that come in a wide range of colors, bloom at around June for us in the Northern Hemisphere and usually aren't scented, but in recent years, a whole arsenal of double flowered Orientals have made their way onto the market and I wanted to be one of the first to obtain, grow and evaluate them as garden plants.

The first of these double orientals to hit the masses is one 'Miss Lucy'. A very soft pink with gently ruffled petals opening to perfection like a carnival confection. This photo blew me and thousands of other avid gardeners off our feet.

We were promised that each bud would open properly, last longer in the vase than any other "single-flowered" oriental hybrid, and being an experienced lily grower, I thought I was about to grow a dream!

I purchased bulbs from a dutch source and that first summer of 2004, this is what it produced:

Lilium Miss Lucy Poor Opening
Buds aborted, and those that did develop opened slowly, then browned out and fell off. A total, WTF Moment!! I paid $10 a bulb just to get this??!!

I figured, okay, it was a tough summer, I didn't irrigate like I was suppose to and didn't fertilize as much as I could have; it was all me, not the plant.

So in 2006, I made sure they had lots of organic material, adequate water and I even tried to plant them in a little more shade so they don't scorch, but I still got THIS:

Lilium Miss Lucy 2006
These were three stems with single flowers on each to make it look like I had "success" with this "exciting new introduction". They never opened fully and you can see the trace of browning on the tepals as they began to go south. =(

I was so ready to trash and bad mouth 'Miss Lucy' and never recommend anyone to grow it! However, I started seeing this at local Seattle and eastside Bellevue home gardens:




OK, what gives, huh???!!!

I've grown lilies since I was in my early teens: I've bred and propagated them, cloned them in the lab, rescued embryos in vitro, collected rare species from the wilds of China AND I CAN'T GET A BLOODY DOUBLE FLOWERED ORIENTAL TO F*ING OPEN PROPERLY!!

Yeah, you bet I was pissed!

What made me determined to succeed with these lilies was seeing Bob and Dianna's new repertoire of double orientals they featured in their catalog about 2 years ago.

Bob and Dianna or B&D Lilies have been friends and mentors of mine since I caught the lily bug early. They've known me since I was 13 years old and bought my first 'Casablanca' bulb from them at the 1996 NW Flower and Garden Show.

Here we are at last year's show:

Dianna Bob Riz

So in their wonderful catalog, they had like 3 or 5 different double flowered Orientals that blew me away. That floozy 'Miss Lucy' was one of them, but it also included ones that were far more colorful and interesting in shape and I figured, "OK, I gotta do this. I need to get one of each and DO THIS!!!"

Here were my results:

Lilium 'Jozef'

Lilium Josef
So, meh, okay. Not the best form or the greatest color. Had one flower on a stiff thin stem.

Lilium 'Davyd'

Lilium Davyd 1
Yeah, this one came out kinda freaky and gross looking.


So then this came along and actually melted my heart and said, "Ahhhh....finally. A nice one"

Lilium Chrys

There are others I got, but never came up for some odd reason and there are still others that I've yet to try, but might splurge on should they become available.

I'll be on the lookout for these this spring:

'Queen Sofia' - aka 'Roselily Fabolia' aka 'Double Star'

'Distant Drum' - aka 'Double Pink Rose'

and this WILD THANG being advertised as purple and white. Why is it f'ing RED with white??!!

Lilium 'Magic Star'

So, I dunno. I don't want to say that these are all crap as I know I could have taken better care of them and according to my gardening friend, Nita-Jo Rountree, who grow spectacular stems of 'Miss Lucy', as seen above, the key, she's been told by a grower, is to always provide adequate water when actively growing and forming buds or else you'll run into the problems I had.

With lilies typically easy to grow without too much attention, the extra effort to ensure these strange lilies might not be worth it for the casual gardener. I think these doubles will always remain a novelty item prized by avid gardeners and serious collectors. Who knows how well they'll be received in the florist trade? Will they open as easily as the "singles" or will buds just abort and shrivel?

Always an ongoing experiment of trial and error. You know I love it!

Oh yeah, I did like this, but totally in moderation:

In and Out Burger


1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed reading this post. I have grown Davyd and Distant Drum and got a deformed flower on DS and got nothing from Davyd at all. Thanks so much for the tips.