August 8, 2013
The Formosa Lily Project
Last spring, a friend gave me a gift of some Formosa lily bulbs, which I had Ryan McCallister, my gardener, plant in the quadrant beds of the terrace garden. The lilies liked that location and sent up tall stalks of dramatic, lovely, and highly fragrant blooms. Most gardeners know that the best way to grow lilies is by planting bulbs, but I heard that Formosa lilies grow quite easily from seed. Ryan and I wanted to experiment with the process and this blog is about just that.
1 This is the view from the porch of my home. It leads down to the terrace garden and the farm beyond. The stone stable is to the left where my 5 Friesians and 3 Sicilian donkeys reside. The small buildings further in the distance are the chicken coops.
2 A view of the porch, which is decorated with hanging ferns
3 This photo was taken a year ago. These are Formosa lilies, which start blooming in August and continue through early October. They bear eight or more 10-inch-long, deliciously scented, pristine-white trumpets upon each stem.
4 Native to Taiwan, the Formosa lily is incredibly easy to grow. This welcome addition to the garden is among the last of the lilies to open each year.
5 After the flowers fade, the seed pods turn upward, forming a candelabra shape.
6 I wanted to harvest the seeds, so the pods were allowed to mature and dry out on the stalk.
7 The pods were cut off the stalks last October, just before they could release their seeds.
8 Each capsule contains hundreds of neatly stacked papery seeds.
9 If left on the stalk, the seeds are easily spread as the stalk sways in the wind.
10 Formosa lilies self-seed very easily and in some parts of the world, these majestic flowers are considered something of a weed.
11 Ryan and I decided to germinate the seeds in the greenhouse so that we could plant the lilies exactly where we wanted them to grow.
12 Jude was simply amazed by all the thousands of seeds.
13 Last winter, Ryan planted a couple of flats of seeds, which took about a month to germinate.
14 This and the following photos were taken yesterday. This is the second season for the Formosa lilies.
15 The outer sides of the petals are suffused with a pleasant red color.
16 As of yesterday, just one flower was open.
17 The Formosa lily seedlings were ready for planting.
18 The plan was to fill in the empty spaces in the quadrants of the terrace garden.
19 The seedlings have an extensive root system.
20 Ryan started to disentangle those roots.
21 Lilies are perennials that grow from bulbs and indeed, each little plant had a small bulb attached.
22 Ryan continued to separate the plants.
23 And then he began planting them in the beds.
24 The hedges are a mix of boxwood, golden barberry, and teucrium.
25 If all goes well, we should have an amazing display of beautiful lilies next summer!