Lily Varieties - A Preview of New 2012 Lilies
Our sneak peek at some of the new lily varieties that will be shown at Lilytopia, starting May 20 at Pennsylvania's Longwood Gardens, and that will be showcased in our July/August issue. These lilies, with their amazing new colors and shapes, will be available for both the bulb and the cut-flower market in 2012.
Recently, the editors at GARDEN DESIGN have been working on a story for the July/August issue about all of the new amazing hybrid lilies that are being developed for the cut flower and the bulb market by Dutch bulb breeders, including Gebr. Vletter & Den Haan, in Rijnsburg, and Mak Breeding B.V., in Wieringerwerf, both in the Netherlands.
I had a chance to go behind the scenes and visit the masses of lilies before they were shot and I wanted to give our readers a sneak peek at some of these amazing flowers.
The lilies were held at Rainbows, Flowers and Fantasies, florist James Rainbow's studio, and while I took photos, he told me all about his career (he did the flowers for As The World Turns and Guiding Light for years!) and gave me some tips for keeping lilies fresh. He also put together a dramatic arrangement with some of the lilies.
And if you're interested in seeing some of these lilies in person, be sure to check out Lilytopia, which will be held from May 20 to May 30 at Pennsylvania's Longwood Gardens. There will be more than 13,000 stems of lilies, including many of the new introductions shown in this slide show.
Three beautiful shades of pink Oriental lilies, which will be available in 2012, line up in the studio.
(Standing in Rainbow's office is like being plunged into a vat of perfume—the air is almost a solid cloud of fragrance.)
The new varities shown, from front to back are: 'Queenfish' (a soft pink with a white throat), 'Avalonia' (a rich deep rose), and 'Bacardi' (a reddish pink).
This new variety, called 'The Edge,' is one of the new Oriental lilies that will be introduced in 2012. Lily hybridizers have been working like mad scientists to develop new colors, new shapes, and new fragrances (including more muted versions of Oriental lilies' famed musky perfume).
The 'Pink Heaven' lily is a cross between an Oriental lily and a Longiflorum lily, and has a much softer fragrance than the ever-popular 'Stargazer.' 'Pink Heaven' is currently available as a cut flower and a bulb.
The rasberry pink 'El Condor' hybrid (a cross between a Longiflorium and an Oriental lily) is already available on the market.
The 'Lesotho' lily is a cross between an Oriental and a Trumpet lily, known among the hybridizers as an OT lily and among some gardeners as an "Orienpet."
In the past, it was difficult to crossbreed different species of lilies, such as Longiflorum, Asiatic, Oriental, and Trumpet lilies, because the seeds often failed to thrive. But thanks to some careful nurturing on the part of the hybridizers, these new varieties are able to blossom in the home garden and for the cut flower market without any problems.
The 'Nashville' lily is known as an "LA" lily, reflecting its parentage as a cross between Longiflorum and Asiatic lilies. First introduced in 1992, LA lilies have become incredibly popular in the past couple of decades, with the trumpet shape of a Longiflorum lily, but the upright calyx of the Asiatic lily, which makes the lily's "face" turn upward.
The bright orange 'Millburn' lily, is one of the 2012 introductions. With the rise of so many new hybrids, Holland is at the forefront of is a new golden age for lily hybridizing, the first golden age being pioneered by Jan de Graaff some 70 years ago.
De Graaff started experimenting at his business, the Oregon Bulb Farm, in Gresham, Oregon, in 1938. He ended up transforming the lily from a bulb that was foraged for in the wild (that was uprooted and planted in home gardens) into an easily grown bulb, popular with gardeners all over the country.
To prep your lilies for arranging, trim off the base of each flower with a sharp knife, at an angle, so that the flowers can drink. Rainbow suggests warm water, rather than cool, for lilies.
Pinch off the anthers from the lilies, so that the pollen does not stain the lilies' petals or your clothes. (If it does get on to your clothes, use a piece of wide tape to lift off the pollen from the fabric. Never try to brush the pollen off, which will rub the pollen deeper into the fabric.)
With more than 500 lilies, Rainbow's studio is completely filled with blooms of every shape and shade.
Rainbow has worked on numerous films, as well as television shows. We cheerfully chat about the weddings in Our Family Wedding and 27 Dresses, both of which he helped provide flowers for, as well as his many years working as the florist for the crazy and complicated characters on As the World Turns and Guiding Light.
Rainbow ended up in the floral business by accident. He moved to New York to be an actor, and while waiting tables, his boss discovered he had an eye for arranging flowers. After a series of lucky breaks, he set up his own shop and he has now been a florist for 25 years.
As Rainbow demonstrates with these two stems of lilies, the new breeds of lilies are significantly larger and sturdier than regular lilies. With flowers spanning 7" in diameter, instead of a more standard 5" diameter, Rainbow describes these lilies as being "on steroids."
Choosing some stems for an arrangement, Rainbow suggests picking flowers in one hue for a simple, but dramatic arrangement. Here he holds a stem of 'Nashville' and a stem of 'Lesotho.'
Rainbow points out that lilies are some of the best value for cut flowers because they can easily last for more than a week (and even up to ten days) in a vase. Though lilies can be expensive per stem, you only need a few of them to create a striking—and long-lasting—arrangement.
Here, Rainbow pairs the lilies with hala leaves, which are the leaves of the Pandanus tectorius tree.