If a beauty contest were held for lilies--species, hybrids, all of them--this is surely the lily that would win. If you know the Casa Blanca lily, the big scented white florist favorite, or Stargazer, the No. 1 red, you may see some of their beauty in this one, since it is a wild parent of both. But in this case, the parent is far more spectacular than the offspring.
As lily expert Michael Jefferson-Brown says, In a genus where splendour is commonplace, this one stands out as magnificent.' But even his comment is an understatement.
Enormous flowers between 10 and 12 inches across have elegantly curled tips at the end of the tepals (petals.) It has a heavenly scent. Blooms are pure white with gold stripes down the middle of each tepal, and then further highlights of bright crimson spots. Lilium auratum ('Auratum' means 'decorated with gold') is truly the masterpiece of the flower kingdom, and probably the most spectacularly beautiful wildflower in the world.
This incredible species, along with Lilium speciosum, the Rose Red Lily of Japan, has been the source of almost all our Oriental Hybrids. But what do you think? Most people think none of the descendants comes close to this parent for sheer beauty.
The bulbs are quite rare, and necessarily expensive. But they are hardy and grow well in most all of North America. Ours were cultivated in Holland, not gathered from the wild. And detailed planting instructions are included. Nothing could be more magnificent as a specimen in your wild garden.
In the 'A-B-C Combination Photo':
The large photo of a red lily is Star Gazer, the most famous Oriental Hybrid.
Photos A and B are of 'wild' or species lilies. Photo A is the old favorite, orange Tiger Lily, one of the best for wild meadows since it is tough, dependably perennial and will grow in almost any soil. Photo B is the incredibly beautiful Regal Lily, Lilium regale, discovered years ago growing wild in China. It has been used to create a whole new group of hybrids.
Photo C shows how beautifully almost any lily works in a mixed garden or with other flowers in a vase. The stunning yellow bi-colored lily shown with red daylilies and gladiolus is the popular Asiatic Hybrid, 'Grand Cru'.
True lilies (which don't include daylilies and others which are not in the genus Lilium
) are easy to grow today, and more popular every season. Since they are upright and take practically no space at ground level, it's easy to plant lilies between other established perennials and shrubs. Most can also tolerate some shade, which adds versatility for the gardener. There are many lily groups, but to keep it simple, we will consider only a few of the main types that are important to gardeners. Each lily we ship includes complete instructions for planting. So don't hesitate. You can easily bring the spectacular beauty of lily flowers to any summer meadow or garden.
'Wild' Lilies or 'Species' Lilies These are the true wildflowers from the world over. They are the ones all the glamorous hybrids are descended from. We're fortunate to have some of these botanical treasures on our list of lilies this season.
Oriental Hybrid Lilies are the now famous, very fragrant ones with large, flattened flowers such as red Star Gazer and white Casa Blanca. These are the ones now so popular in the floral trade, but are also very easy to grow. They bloom from mid-summer through early fall. Most have very large, outward-facing, fragrant flowers.
Asiatic Hybrid Lilies are today's largest group of garden lilies, quite easy to 'naturalize'. This growing group of lilies was begun by hybridizers in the US, and were first called 'Mid-Century Hybrids.' Compared to Orientals, the Asiatic Hybrid lilies bloom earlier (early to mid summer), the plants are shorter, the flowers a bit smaller, and most blooms are upward-facing and star-shaped. Some of the most famous Asiatic Hybrids are orange 'Enchantment', and the famous red, 'Gran Paradiso.'
Tiger Lilies. This group is led by the famous old orange wild lily, which used to be called Lilium tigrinum. Botanists have changed that to Lilum lancifolium, but that doesn't stop most people (including us) from using the old name 'tigrinum.' From the original orange, the hybridizers have created new colors from white to pink. All have the large flowers, spots, and tough perennial qualities of the original. (By the way, don't call any old spotted orange lily 'tiger lily'. This one is the real thing, and no lily common name is more mis-used.)
Trumpet Lilies Sometimes called 'Aurelian Hybrids' or other names, the large, tall trumpet lilies are all descended from The Regal Lily, a white wild species lily from China. All are incredibly fragrant, and wonderful for cutting. They grow tall, and often need staking, since a well-grown stalk can have over 15 huge flowers.