Lilies that science made

I mentioned one of my new lilies yesterday, the white, OT (Oriental/Trumpet) ‘Stonehenge’. Lilies have come a long way in recent years as science has allowed hybrids to be made among groups that would not otherwise interbreed. This is not GM, but careful ‘Intensive care’ of embryos that would not naturally develop. These new lilies are dominating most of the cultivars that are being sold, primarily because they are full of hybrid vigour and have novelty value.

The funny thing is that, the more I see them, the more I am drawn to the species. I have, in the past, been very close to being a ‘species snob’ in general, and I do forgive plants small flowers if they are interesting. I also fear that these complex hybrids appeal to the current desire to have it all. Just because I like peanuts, and chocolate, and caramel, and marshmallows, is it really a good idea to have them all in one cake? Possibly – but it makes all these things less special. I think that some moderation or abstinence is a good thing in the long term.

Anyway, away from the troubles of the world to lily ‘Fusion’ above. This combines the turk’s cap Lilium pardalinum from the USA and the white trumpet L. longiflorum from Asia. Lilium pardalinum is reputedly slightly tricky to please but this hybrid is allegedly easy and inherits its slightly stoloniferous habit from its spotty parent. I assumed that, with L. longiflorum as a parent, it would be scented but it is not. The foliage is remarkably small and scattered up the stems and not in whorls as in Lilium pardalinum despite what the seller states – unless I have something different, of course. It has only just opened so too early to judge it but, so far, I am not blown away.

And I am far from impressed with ‘Yin’, an even more remarkable combination, this time of an Oriental lily and the remarkably coloured L. nepalense. It is bred from the first of this cross ‘Kushi Maya’ and it is a remarkable bit of breeding but, of all my bulbs, none have grown anywhere near the described height and none have flowers with the full complement of six petals. The flowers are huge and they are fragrant but I am not in love with them – yet. In their defence is the very late delivery and planting and a strange growing season. So maybe they will redeem themselves next year. I am just beginning to wonder if things have gone as far as they can, or should, with new lilies. I long for the simple, scented trumpets of Lilium regale!

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2 Comments on “Lilies that science made”

  1. Meriel in Wicklow
    September 8, 2020 at 4:43 pm #

    I love the look of both of those lilies. A pity about the scent factor though.

  2. digwithdorris
    September 9, 2020 at 10:08 am #

    Got to be scented otherwise they don’t seem like lilies to me

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