This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Lilium Candidum. White Lily
Cor. 6-petala, campanulata: linea longitudinali nectarifera. Caps. valvulis pilo cancellato connexis.
LILIUM candidum foliis sparsis, corollis campanulatis, intus glabris. Linn. Sp. Pl. ed. 3. p. 433. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. p. 324. Ait. Kew. v. 1. p. 429.
LILIUM album flore erecto et vulgare. Bauh. Pin. 76.
LILIUM album vulgare. The ordinary White Lily. Park. Parad. p. 39. t. 37. f. 4.
We may rank the White Lily among the very oldest inhabitants of the flower-garden; in the time of Gerard it was very generally cultivated, and doubtless at a much earlier period; a plant of such stateliness, so shewy, so fragrant, and at the same time so much disposed to increase, would of course soon be found very generally in gardens, into which its introduction would be accelerated on another account; it was regarded as a plant of great efficacy; among other extraordinary powers attributed to it, we are gravely told that it taketh away the wrinkles of the face.
Linnaeus makes it a native of Palestine and Syria; Mr. Aiton of the Levant.
Its blossoms, which open early in July, continue about three weeks, and when they go off leave the flower-garden greatly thinned of its inhabitants.
Of the White Lily there are three principal varieties:
1. With double flowers.
2. With flowers blotched with purple.
3. With striped leaves, or leaves edged with yellow.
The two first of these are to be esteemed merely as curiosities; in the third the plant acquires an accession of beauty which it has not originally; though many persons object to variegated leaves, as conveying an idea of fickliness, that complaint cannot be urged against the foliage of the striped Lily, to which the borders of the flower-garden are indebted for one of their chief ornaments during the autumnal and winter months; early in September these begin to emerge, and towards spring another set rises up in their centre, of more upright growth, and which announce the rising of the flowering stem.
Besides these varieties, Linnaeus has considered the Lilium album floribus dependentibus s. peregrinum of C. Bauhine, the Sultan Zambach of Clusius, and the Hortus Eystettensis, as one of its varieties also: Miller regards this plant as a distinct species, and those who have attentively examined the figures and descriptions of Clusius and the Hort. Eyst. will be of the same opinion.
The Lily increases most abundantly by offsets, hence it becomes necessary that the bulbs should be taken up, and reduced every second or third year; but the striped leaved variety increasing much more slowly, should remain unmolested for a greater length of time.
There is scarcely a soil or situation in which the Lily will not grow, it will thrive most in a soil moderately stiff and moist; though a native of a warm climate no severity of weather affects it with us: we may learn from this, not to regulate the culture of plants invariably by the climate in which they grow spontaneously.
The best time for removing the bulbs of this plant is about the middle of August, before they shoot forth their leaves; but they may be transplanted any time from September to spring.