This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
"Behold the Lilies, how they grow".
Thiers is something in the very name lily* that seems to imply grace and beauty. Kow naturally does the mind associate ideas of loveliness with the words of the Savior, "Behold the lilies of the field: they toil not* neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." " These words," says Sir Jambs Smith (a name celebrated among English botanists), "are commonly applied to the White Lily or the Tulips, neither of which are natives of Palestine. It is natural to presume that the Divine Teacher, according to his usual custom, called the attention of his hearers to some object near at hand; and as the fields of the Levant are overrun with the Amarillus lutea, whose golden liliaceous blossoms in autumn afford one of the most brilliant prospects in nature, the expression of 'solomon in all his glory' was peculiarly appropriate." The valleys near Jerusalem at thi9 day are carpeted with these lovely Lilies, serving as a mute illustration of the text.
The Lily tribe has a wide range, and seems to be found under all climes, in some form or other It blooms in the frozen zone, as well as beneath the suns of Asia. Dr. Richabdson mentions the Lilium Philadelphieum among the artic flowers, noticing that the root is eaten by the field-mice, and from that circumstance has gained the local name of Mouse-root; while the Canada porcupine (Nystrix pilosa) feeds largely upon the roots of the Lilium glabra.
I think it is the Lilium Philadelphicum that adorns our oak openings with its large open bells of gorgeous scarlet, dotted with black spots at the base of each petal, and may be seen raising its stately head above its more lowly comrades - the azure Lupine and white Wintergreen (PyroLa rotundifolia) - with which it forms a charming contrast.
Our woods and plains afford specimens of many liliaceous flowers. Botanists seem to me fond of separating the members of this fair family, and putting asunder those whom nature has joined together. All bulbous-rooted, hexandrous, hexapetalous flowers, are naturally allied, and should be, I think, classed in one order. 1 would arrange all the families of plants in grades, or steps, linking them together in a great natural chain. Botanists would doubtless think me presump-ttous in proposing any classification opposed to the popular ones in vogue, and possibly great objections might exist which I have not considered. I therefore offer the suggestion with all humility and deference to the learned in the science.
But while I lament that the name of Lily is taken from some that I think ought to possess it, I must also observe that it is similarly bestowed upon others who have no claim to it Who that has ever floated over the still waters of any of our small inland lakes or slow-flowing rivers, hut has been tempted, at the risk of upsetting the frail bark canoe or skiffj to put forth a hand to snatch one of those lovely Water Lilies (Nymphaa odorata) - those queens of the lakes, that rest in spotless pride upon the waters - or gazed down through their depths with wishful and admiring eyes at the exquisite buds, half unfolded, that are springing upward to expand their pure silken petals to the sunbeam, and to bathe in the light and air so necessary to the perfection of their fruit Yet the Nymphma is not really a Lily; and many a one not skilled in floral names call the yellow Iris and the blue Iris Water Lilies.
* I tod that Eton, In his notes to Lilium, observes, "From the Greek letrion, lily, smooth, graceful; or from the Celtic IL whiteness".
The biography of remarkable flowers might, in skillful hands, be made almost as interesting and instructive as the lives of celebrated men and women; for there are flowers that have an individual history attached to them, and possess a name and celebrity above their fellows. As an illustration, I will select the history of the Guernsey Lily. which I extract from a volume entitled Historic Scene and Poetic Fancies, by Agnes Strickland, which, as it may not be generally known, will possibly be read with interest by some of the subscribers of the Horticulturist:
:The first of this splendid species ever seen in Europe was observed growing at high water mark on the Guernsey shore, a few weeks after the wreck of a large home-bound East Indiaman, which, with all her crew, and passengers, and costly freight, was lost on the perilous reef off that coast This flower, being the sole relic of the rich cargo, was called by the peasants the 'Lily of the Wreck;' and being greatly prised, not only from this circumstance but for its rare beauty, was carefully preserved and cultivated. In the course of a few years the species was propagated throughout the island, where it flourished so profusely as to become in time an article of commerce; and being erroneously supposed by foreign florists to be indigenous to that locality, has by them been named 'The Guernsey Lily.' The tradition of its first appearance is, however, familiar to the sea-faring population of the island".
I select from the little Doem that precedes this note, the closing lines.
"Nought reached the land in that dreadful hour, Save the simple bulb of an Indian flower, Which the surges washed from the found'ring bark; And when autumn came, at high water mark, The Guernsey fishers, wondering, eyed Its bads expand in gorgeous pride, ' And said, so fair a plant before
Did never bloom on their nigged shore.
"The Lily of the Wreck at first
It was called, by those who had fondly nursed
The pilgrim flower: but its fame in time
Went forth to every western came,
And now those orient Lilies claim .
From Guernsey's isle their general name,
For they flourish as free on its rocky strand
As beneath the suns of their own bright land"
Among the most beautiful flowering plants were two lilies, the one white; the other yellow, growing in the marshes near Aspinwall, and equalling in beauty any of the lily tribe.
We notice our dealers in these bulbs are offering them at prices comparatively cheap with former years, and we again say to our readers, do not fail of having a bed of lilies. Make the ground rich with well-rotted manure, and at least two feet deep; then, when planting the bulb, surround it with clean sand an inch thick, below and above, and over it good strong soil, free from any undecomposed manure. Animal or vegetable matter, in an undecomposed state, when in immediate connection with the bulb, induces rot and decay.
If bulbs of Liliums were not planted in autumn, which they always should be except Longiflorum, which is not quite hardy, plant at once, and in this case do not expect grand results; the lilies make their largest quantity of roots in the winter before the tops commence to grow, which can be seen by taking up roots as soon as frost is out of the ground.