October 19, 2019

Planting Orienpet Lilies for Midsummer Blooms

I'm in the middle of planting hundreds of bulbs this fall, including nearly two dozen Orienpet lilies from B&D Lilies.  In past years I've planted a number of Orientals that have failed to grow vigorously, but the Orienpets (Oriental x Trumpet hybrids) are much more sturdy and floriferous, even when they face competition from other perennials growing nearby.  Above is 'LeVern Friemann,' aka 'Miss Feya,' which B&D Lilies recommends as the best hybrid lily ever created.  It has a beautiful fragrance, grows 5 to 6 feet tall, and can produce dozens of flowers on each stalk when established.

I planted six more 'LeVern Friemann' bulbs and transplanted a few that had become crowded.  One of the transplanted bulbs had produced 2 stalks taller than me and was as big as a cantaloupe!  These large bulbs need to be planted up to a foot deep to give room for the feeder roots that grow out of the stalk just above the bulb.  Roots growing from the base of the bulb hold the plant in place.

Last fall I planted some 'Purple Prince' Orienpet bulbs (from a different company) and enjoyed a few blooms this year.  Hopefully they'll settle in and put on a better show next July.  The flowers were trumpet-shaped and purplish-pink, not true purple.  I expect they'll blend well with the color of nearby 'Mini Mauvette' hydrangeas when the shrubs finally get large enough to bloom.

Here is a first-year 'Elusive' Orienpet lily planted with 'Chantilly Peach' snapdragons, 'Magical Desire' Hypericum and 'Beyond Blue' Campanula.  The peachy-pink color with a yellow center was really lovely, as was the fragrance.  On hot days the opening flowers were a paler color.  This summer an 'Elusive' bulb I planted a few years ago grew to nearly 7 feet tall in partial shade.  B&D Lilies recommends feeding lilies with fertilizer or nutrient-rich compost every year or they won't continue to grow and bloom well.

A stalk from a 'Pink Snowflake' Orienpet lily from B&D Lilies boasted 7 flowers, and it has survived whereas Oriental 'Casa Blanca' disappeared from the same area.  The aphids really liked this one, but they were easily washed off when I actually remembered to pull over the hose and do it.  The buds are sometimes pink (obviously these don't look very pink) but they open white.  Last fall I planted six 'Pretty Woman' Orienpet bulbs nearby, but they weren't from B&D Lilies so they were smaller in bulb and in growth this summer.  However I loved the almost-white flowers from 'Pretty Woman' and look forward to more flowers next summer if I can remember to keep fertilizing them.

These 'Royal Sunset' lilies are an Easter x Asiatic hybrid instead of an Orienpet but have been growing and reproducing prolifically for many years despite less than ideal conditions in my west garden.   Their color is really lovely next to my David Austin 'Lady Emma Hamilton' rose.
The other Orienpets I planted this fall were deep pink 'Fujian' and maroon 'Formia', and I expect a decent performance next year from them since they came from B&D Lilies.  I also made a second order from B&D yesterday of a dozen 'Red Velvet' lilies, as RV is a triploid Asiatic hybrid that is known for being 'tough as nails' while producing old fashioned candelabras of deep red hanging flowers that look so pretty in the garden.
I'm grateful for beautiful lilies that add showy, elegant flowers to the midsummer garden after the peonies have finished and while roses are taking a break from blooming but before the dramatic dahlias begin.  They definitely draw the eye to their large blooms on tall stalks, and their fragrance is a delight.  I'm also grateful that the blooms on these types of lilies last longer than their daylily cousins, so the deadheading is less overwhelming. 

September 20, 2019

Fall Floral with Dahlias

We're getting close to the first frost when all my dahlias will turn into black mush, but until then we've been enjoying them in the garden and in vases.  Above is peachy-cream 'Cafe au Lait,' rightly popular with prolific, big blooms on a stocky plant.  The maroon dahlia is 'Karma Choc' with an Angelica purpurea seed head at center.

I love the texture that umbel seed heads add to arrangements, including more Angelica and a green parsley seed head above.

A less mature 'Cafe au Lait' flower is still mostly closed with maroon 'Royal Purple' smoke bush leaves adding contrast.

Dahlias don't continue to develop after cutting.  This 'Cafe au Lait' bloom was cut after it had time to mature and open on the plant.  I've discovered that heavy dahlia flowers often need sturdy greenery stems to hold them up in an arrangement.  The forked stems of my Korean spice Viburnum have been especially helpful with this, as shown here.

After reading that 'Rip City' (above left) is English gardener-extraordinaire Sarah Raven's favorite dahlia, I planted several this spring.  But they were crowded by other plants and didn't produce flowers as large and full as expected.  As trees mature around the perimeter of my backyard, I have fewer full sun spots without tree root competition.  So I'm considering spraying Roundup on my two large 'Twilight Blue' Baptisia plants next spring.  They're in prime sunny positions with rich soil, and they produce flowers that are quickly hidden by the foliage and then grow nearly six feet wide by the end of the season.  They're taking too much space for plain green foliage and I want more room for dahlias instead.

A final 'Cafe au Lait' bloom is held up by Korean spice stems and joined by parsley and Angelica seed heads.  Dahlias are so showy that they make it easy to create lovely arrangements. 

August 28, 2019

August Lilies, Allium, Dahlias, Hardy Hibiscus

The Northwest corner of the garden has been colorful in August with perennial 'Berry Awesome' hardy hibiscus blooming for the first time along with 'Lavern Friemann' (aka Miss Freya) Orienpet lilies standing out against the 'Royal Purple' smoke bush at right.

The lilies are sturdy, tall and sweetly fragrant.  If the breeze is right, we can catch their scent on the patio.  I am a big fan of the Orienpet hybrids.  They are much more vigorous in my garden than the Oriental lilies I've planted over the years.

On the back side of the bed the lilies mingle with tall 'Jeana' phlox and Russian sage (yet to bloom in this shot).

'Berry Awesome' hibiscus deserves another picture.  Each flower lasts only two days before it wilts and needs to be deadheaded.  But the flowers are so large that each one makes a big impact.  The mauve-green foliage was pretty all season even before the flowers appeared.

Here is the view of the whole Northwest corner bed in August, with 'Millennium' allium in full bloom in front.

The mauve allium looks nice with maroon 'Rip City' dahlias planted nearby.  On warm afternoons, this allium was covered with pollinators.  Absolutely swarming.  So don't plant it next to a walkway where you might be stung if you brush against a honeybee.

Only one of my 'Karma Choc' dahlia tubers made it through the winter in storage, but its flowers echo 'Rip City' and work well with the color scheme in this area.

I can't resist sharing another view of this corner in the late afternoon light.  This is the best bloom year so far for the area.

One peek at the Northeast corner reveals that the honeysuckle still hasn't grown all the way across the swing set frame.  Maybe next year (I've been saying that for years). 
This summer we've been fighting against a huge outbreak of root weevils.  Unfortunately I didn't realize what was causing the notching on plant leaves until the root weevil population exploded.  Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides would do the best job of killing the pests, which chew on leaves in their adult form and chew on roots as larvae, but bees and other pollinators are also harmed by that type of pesticide.  So we've sprayed Neem oil several times.  It seems to have slowed the root weevils but not completely wiped them out.  I'm hoping to get spraying earlier next year, in the few weeks after the adults appear but before they start laying eggs.  And the neighbor's aspen roots keep sending big shoots into our garden, so we keep pulling them up.  Thrips continue to abound.  There is always a battle to be fought in the garden, but we enjoy the results so much that it's worth it.