"Have you seen but a bright Lily grow, Before rude hands have touched it ? "
"Queen of the field, in milk-white mantle drest, The lovely Lily waved her curling crest."
All the species of this splendid genus, with which we are acquainted, may be considered worthy of a place in every good collection of plants. Many of the species are well known, while a greater number are not often seen in our gardens.
The Lily is an interesting flower to the young florist as well as the botanist, on account of the simplicity of its structure and magnitude and distinct character of its different parts and organs. The root of the Lily, or what is generally denominated the root, is a scaly bulb, the scales being laid over each other in an imbricate form, inclosing the germ, or bud. The bulb is not a root, strictly speaking, but a bud containing the embryo of the future plant. The roots are thrown out from the bottom of these bulbs, or buds, and, unlike the fibres of the Tulip, are perennial; and on their strength depends, in a great measure, the vigor of the future plant. Bulbs, long kept out of ground, are very much weakened, and a number of years will elapse before they recover strength to bloom in great perfection. After the flowering of the Lily, in August, the foliage of many species decays; the bulbs then are in the most perfect state for transplanting. If they are permitted to remain long after this, and the foliage begins to start again, they will not bloom so strong the next year. The Lily should not be moved any oftener than is necessary. It is not like the Tulip and many other bulbs, which are not injured, but rather improved, by taking them up annually after flowering. The Lily will do well in any well prepared border or bed. To have them in perfection, the soil should be excavated eighteen inches deep and filled with a compost of peat, or swamp muck, undecayed manure, or leaf mould, a foot deep; the remaining six inches may be peat and rich mould. The bulbs of strong-growing Lilies may be planted from four to five inches deep; and weaker sorts from three to four inches. In the borders, three bulbs, of the stronger-growing varieties, are enough for one group, or five, of the weaker sorts. They have a pleasing effect when planted in masses; or they may be planted in beds. Most of the species are quite hardy; but they will all be benefited, and bloom more strongly, provided they receive a covering of rotten manure before winter sets in.
Lilium candidum. - The Old White Lily. - This species has always been considered the emblem of whiteness, and is too well known to require any description. A mass of White Lilies is always beheld with admiration, and they perfume the air with their delicious fragrance. The White Lily is, therefore, indispensable, and should be found in every garden. It sometimes attains the height of three or four feet, and is in flower about the first of July.
Lilium candidum flore pleno. - The Double White Lily. - A variety of the double white; it is curious, but not beautiful. The inflorescence appears to be a continuation of the foliage, which, as it terminates the stem, gradually assumes the character of petals, with the whiteness of the simple flower. It is a monster, and for that reason may be fancied by some.
Lilium candidum flore variegata. - The Variegated White
Lily. - This is another variety of the White Lily, and not very desirable. The purity of the white is destroyed by the dull purple stripes that mark the petals, and give it a dingy appearance.
Lilium longiflorum. - The Long-flowered White Lily. - This is a very beautiful and fragrant species, not quite so hardy as the common White Lily, but stands the winter well, when protected. The flowers, pure white, very long and large, produced in July.
Lilium iriartagon. - Turk's Cap Lily. - There are many varieties of this species; some with pure white, others with purple, spotted, or variegated flowers. The petals are very much reflexed, giving them the appearance of caps. In strong soil, and the roots well established, the stems are sometimes thrown up from three to five feet, producing twenty or thirty flowers, flowering in July.
Lilium candidum folia variegata. - The Gold-striped Lily. - There are two varieties of garden White Lily with striped leaves, one having yellow, the other white striped foliage; both pretty in a collection.
Lilium umbellatum. - The Umbel-flowered Orange Lily. - This is a strong-growing. species, producing quite a number of large, upright orange flowers,with rough interior. In contrast with the White Lily, it makes an imposing appearance. It flowers about the first of July.
Lilium auranticum. - The Dwarf Orange Lily. - More dwarfish than the last; about two feet high, with three or four upright orange flowers on a stem; in flower in July.
Lilium tigrinum - Tiger-spotted Lily. - A very common, strong-growing species; but very showy, having fine, reflexed, orange flowers, with black spots. It has the peculiarity of producing small bulbs in the axil of the leaves. It grows from four to six feet high, flowering in August, and is a suitable plant for the shrubbery as well as the border. It is very easily propagated, as all the axil bulbs, when planted in the ground soon produce flowering plants.
Lilium pomponicum. - Scarlet Pompone Lily. - This is a beautiful species, with scarlet reflexed petals, flowering- in June and July. It is rather a shy flowerer, and has not flourished so well with us as some other sorts.
Lilium chalcedonicum. - Scarlet Martagon Lily. - This is another fine scarlet lily, with reflexed petals, growing three or four feet high, and flowering in July.
L. pyrenaicum, with reflexed yellow flowers, with scarlet anthers, we have in our collection; very pretty, but producing only from one to three flowers in each stem. Among other beautiful varieties, or species, are L. catesbcei, a native of the south, with orange-colored flowers, and dwarf in its habits. L. Carolinanum, from Carolina, somewhat like L. superbum; L. monadelphum, a species of Martagon, from Caucasus; L. croceum, pumilum, and many others, which may be obtained from the Dutch florists. Lily bulbs, when transported from Holland, are so much weakened, from being kept so long out of ground, that more than one half of them perish; and the few that vegetate stand a number of years, frequently, before they get strength to bloom.
Lilium Japonicum. - The Japan Lily. - This magnificent species of Lily, and its varieties, have been introduced but a few years, and, until lately, treated as green-house plants. They are found to be as hardy as our common Lilies, and will, therefore, prove a great acquisition to the garden. The variety speciosum has a pink and white frosted ground, finely spotted with deep crimson; L. lancifolium album is pure white; each variety with reflexed petals. These Lilies emit an exquisite odor. I have seen plants five and six feet high; they were, however, grown in pots in the green-house. These bulbs have commanded extravagant prices; consequently are found in but few collections. As the price is now greatly reduced, we hope soon to see them more common. The following account is from an English paper; and, as the directions for their culture will be applicable to us, we insert it, with some omissions : " Few plants of recent introduction are more handsome or attractive than the Japan Lilies. They produce a gorgeous display, either in-doors or out; and, as they are quite hardy, they may be liberally planted in the open border, and thus constitute one of our best autumnal flower-garden plants.
"Their propagation is simple and certain. The bulbs may be separated, and each scale will eventually form a new bulb. This separation should be effected when the flower stems are withered. The scales should be stuck into pans of silver sand, and placed in a cold frame or pit. After remaining one season in this position, they should be planted in a prepared bed of peat soil, and a little silver sand intermixed with it; thus treated, the bulbs will soon grow large enough to flower.
"The cultivation of them in pots is by no means difficult. I shall detail the practice I have pursued with success for some years. Immediately when the bulbs go to rest in the autumn, is the proper time to repot them. By no means destroy the old roots, but carefully place them amongst the fresh soil. If large examples, for particular display, are required, large pots may be employed, and half a dozen flowering bulbs placed in each pot. The soil I use is rough peat. The pots should be well drained, and the crown of the bulb just covered with the soil; when potted, they should be placed in a cold pit or frame, in order to prevent the soil from freezing, although frost will not injure the bulb. Where room under glass is an object in winter, they may be plunged in the open air in coal ashes, in a manner similar to potted Hyacinths. I have at this time a large number coming into flower, which have never been under glass until within these few days; they have sustained no injury from exposure, and they present every appearance of making a grand display. There is scarcely any plant which is so much benefited by liquid manure as the Lily; more especially before expanding its flowers. If used in a clear state, and considerably diluted, this water alone may be applied for at least a month before it comes into flower.
"If the object should be out-door cultivation entirely, I should recommend them to be planted in beds; their effect is exceedingly grand. Excavate the soil eighteen inches deep, and fill in the bottom, a foot deep, with very coarse peat, intermixed' with one fifth of decayed manure or leaf mould. The remaining six inches may be entirely peat. If the bulbs are large enough to bloom, plant them twelve inches apart every way; and if beds of each kind are brought into contact with one another, the effect will be magnificent.
" The following are the kinds I cultivate : Lilium lancifolium album, L. punctatum, and L. speciosum. The old Japonicum is also well worth growing."
All our native Lilies are beautiful, and very much improved by cultivation. While we are bringing together, from the ends of the earth, the treasures of Flora, let not our own be neglected. These may be taken from our fields and meadows, when in bloom, by carefully taking them up with a ball of earth, and in a few years will richly repay the trouble.
Lilium superbum. - Superb Lily. - One of the most magnificent of our native plants; not common in the vicinity of Boston, but in many parts of the state and in New York in abundance. Stem erect, straight, from three to six feet high, wearing a large pyramid of orange-colored flowers, not unfre-quently numbering, when cultivated, thirty or forty. The flowers are much reflexed. They are found in many varieties, with flowers from a yellow to an orange scarlet; in bloom in July.
Lilium Canadense. - Nodding Meadow Lily. - This fine Lily may be found embellishing our meadows in June, when it rarely produces more than from one to five modest, nodding, but showy, flowers, on stems one to three feet high. It is very much improved by cultivation, and, when planted in rich ground, has been known to grow five feet high, with a pyramid of at least twenty of its pendulous flowers; color from yellow to deep orange scarlet. The flowers are profusely spotted with brown, on the inside, and are but little reflexed.
Lilium Philadelphicum. - The Common Red Lily of our pastures and dry fields; equal, if not superior, in beauty, to the Canadense, but of a different habit. Its height rarely exceeds two feet, with one to three flowers, supported on a long-claw; upright, of a dark vermilion color, richly spotted with black. The flowers are bell-shaped; in bloom in July.
The character of this species will no doubt be as much improved by cultivation as Canadense. It will then form one of the most showy ornaments of the garden, as the color of the flower is rich and brilliant. If ten or fifteen flowers can be produced on one stem, the effect of a group of plants will be surpassingly rich.