1 F. H. Horsford of Charlotte, Vt., is very reliable in this matter.
Many other beautiful and possible lilies there are besides these four, but these are to be taken as first steps in lily lore, as it were; for to make anything like a general collection of this flower is a matter of more serious expense and difficulty than to collect roses, owing to the frailness of the material and the different climatic conditions under which the rarer species, especially those from India and the sea islands, originated; but given anything Japanese and a certain cosmopolitan intelligence seems bred in it that carries a reasonable hope of success under new conditions.
We have half a dozen species of beautiful native lilies, but like some of our most exquisite ferns they depend much for their attractiveness upon the setting their natural haunts offer, and I do not like to see them caged, as it were, within strict garden boundaries.
The red wood-lily should be met among the great brakes of a sandy wood edge, where white leafless wands of its cousin, star-grass, or colic root, wave above it, and the tall late meadow-rue and white angelica fringe the background.
The Canada bell-lily needs the setting of meadow grasses to veil its long, stiff stalks, while the Turk's-cap lily seems the most at home of all in garden surroundings, but it only gains its greatest size in the deep meadows, where, without being wet, there is a certain moisture beneath the deep old turf, and this turf itself not only keeps out frost, but moderates the sun's rays in their transit to the ground.
Two lilies there are that, escaping from gardens, in many places have become half wild - the brick-red, black-spotted tiger lily with recurved flowerets, after the shape of the Japanese roseum, rubrum, and album, being also a native of Japan and China, and the tawny orange day lily, that is found in masses about old cellars and waysides, with its tubular flowers, held on leafless stems, springing from a matted bed of leaves. This day lily (hemerocallis fulva) is sister to the familiar and showy lemon lily of old gardens (hemerocallis flava). If you have plenty of room by your wall, I should lodge a few good bunches by it when you find some in a location where digging is possible. It is a decorative flower, but hardly worthy of good garden soil. The same may be said of the tiger lily, on account of the very inharmonious shade of red it wears; yet if you have a half-wild nook, somewhere that a dozen bulbs of it may be tucked in company with a bunch of the common tall white phlox that flowers at the same time, you will have a bit of colour that will care for itself.
The lemon lily should have a place in the hardy border well toward the front row and be given enough room to spread into a comfortable circle after the manner of the white plantain lily (Funkia subcordata). This last lily, another of Japan's contributions to the hardy garden, blooms from August until frost and unlike most of the lily tribe is pleased if well-rotted manure is deeply dug into its resting-place.
As with humanity the high and lowly born are subject to the same diseases, so is it with the lily tribe, and because you choose the sturdiest and consequently least expensive species for your garden, do not think that you may relax your vigilance.
There is a form of fungous mould that attacks the bulbs of lilies without rhyme or reason and is the insidious tuberculosis of the race. Botrytis cinerea is its name and it seizes upon stalk and leaves in the form of spots that are at first yellow and then deepen in colour, until finally, having sapped the vitality of the plant, it succumbs.
Cold, damp, insufficient protection in winter, all serve to render the lily liable to its attacks, but the general opinion among the wise is that the universal overstimulation of lilies by fertilizers during late years, especially of the white lilies used for church and other decorative purposes, has undermined the racial constitution and made it prone to attacks of the enemy. Therefore, if you please, Mary Penrose, sweet soil, sulphur, sand, and good winter covering, if you would not have your lily bed a consumptives' hospital!
Some lilies are also susceptible to sunstroke. When growing in the full light and heat of the sun, and the buds are ready to open, suddenly the flowers, leaves, and entire stalk will wither, as when in spring a tulip collapses and we find that a meadow-mouse has nipped it in the core. But with the lily the blight comes from above, and the only remedy is to plant in half shade.
On the other hand the whims of the flower require that this be done carefully, for if the scorching sun is an evil, a soaking, sopping rain, coming at the height of the blooming season and dripping from overhanging boughs, is equally so. The gold-and-copper pollen turns to rusty tears that mar the petals of satin ivory or inlaid enamel, and a sickly transparency that bodes death comes to the crisp, translucent flower 1
"What a pother for a bed of flowers 1" I hear you say, "draining, subsoiling, sulphuring, sanding, covering, humouring, and then sunstroke or consumption at the end!" So be it, but when success does come, it is something worth while, for to be successful with these lilies is "aiming the star" in garden experience.
The plantain lilies and hemerocallis seem free from all of these whims and diseases, but it is when we come to the lily-of-the-valley that we have the compensation for our tribulations with the royal lilies of pure blood.
The lily-of-the-valley asks deep, very rich soil in the open sun; if a wall or hedge protects it from the north, so much the better. I do not know why people preach dense shade for this flower; possibly because they prefer leaves to flowers, or else that they are of the sheeplike followers of tradition instead of practical gardeners of personal experience. One thing grows to perfection in the garden of this commuter's wife, and that is lilies-of-the-valley, and shade knows them not between eight in the morning and five at night, and we pick and pick steadily for two weeks, for as the main bed gives out, there are strips here and there in cooler locations that retard the early growth, but never any overhanging branches.