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Leopard Lily for Bloom Day

Panther lily, Lilium pardalinum ssp. pardalinum

Leopard lily, Lilium pardalinum ssp. pardalinum

Our Leopard Lily Lilium pardalinum ssp. pardalinum (also listed as Panther Lily and sometimes Tiger Lily, why not Ocelot Lily or Jaguar Lily?) popped yesterday, just in time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (click thru for links to tons of gardenblogs showing what they have blooming). This is its second year for us, and it multiplied in the pot, but it’s looking like it might only do this one flower so we need to cherish it. It might be the coolest flower we grow.

We’re still learning about the native lilies. They seem relatively easy, but the hardest part is getting them. They’re only available from the commercial growers for a couple of weeks each year while they are in bloom. The Leopard lily showed up on the availability lists this year for about a week, but it sold out before we were ready to do an order, to be replaced by the “Corralitos Hybrids,” which will also sell out almost immediately. I have about two dozen lilies that I’m growing myself, but they are sloooow, two years to make a plantable 4″.

Panther Lily and Corralitos Hybrid Lily

Leopard Lily and Corralitos Hybrid Lily

I didn’t know the Corralitos Hybrids but they are a cross between Lilium pitkinense and Lilium kelloggii, both of which are native to Northern California. (Pitkinense is sometimes listed as a subspecies of pardalinum. Pacific Bulb Society has photos of all of these lilies.) We snagged a half dozen, but they’re getting installed tomorrow and only spent four days in our yard. I took a photo of the two lilies side by side, the leopard lily is on the left, the Corralitos Hybrid on the right. We normally prefer to install plants when they aren’t blooming, but it’ll be pretty nice to show up at the job site with some of these. In retrospect, we should have ordered more and kept a few for ourselves. Ah, well.

Nigella, Heuchera, Larkspur, Calendula

Nigella, Heuchera, Larkspur, Calendula, Allium

A floral arrangement from last weekend shows several of the other plants blooming in our yard right now: Love in a mist (Nigella), Calendula, Heuchera “Torch, Larkspur, and the last of our Allium unifolium for the year. Check at May Dreams Gardens for lots of other plants in bloom and thank you Carol for hosting.

ryan 6/15

Brodiaea Agapanthaflora?



I’m a pretty loyal California native planter, but I had my confidence in one of the native bulbs, Brodiaea, shaken recently. We’ve been planting “Corrina” and “Queen Fabiola” for a couple of years, and they’re good small bulbs for our area — they have pretty blue flowers, they don’t take much space, and they don’t require any irrigation, you just fall-plant them and walk away. But then a friend of mine said they looked like agapanthus. Ouch.



That might not sound like a big deal to non-Californians, but around here agapanthus is the omnipresent strip-mall/sub-division/highway-median plant. Plenty of gardeners from other areas seem to like it — for instance, Garden Design magazine recently featured a French garden named Le Jardin Agapanthique, which to me is like naming it the Privet Garden — but it gets no love here. The flower is okay, I guess, but the foliage is too glossy for our landscape; it looks plastic and fake next to the more silver and gray foliage of other low water plants. I sort of respect the plant’s bomb-proof toughness — I once dug a bunch out of the ground and dumped it all in a pile in the sun in the middle of summer and three weeks later it was still blooming — but I’ve demoed a lot of it, and I find that it’s always heavy, it’s always full of snails, and it always leaves behind nasty wormlike white roots. My apologies to any agapanthus gardeners out there, but I don’t like it.

So it’s kind of disturbing to think that Brodiaea resembles agapanthus. Do other people see the similarity? There’s a photo of the Brodiaea foliage below, and, upon reflection, the leaves are actually kind of glossy, and the fact that they flop over and then turn brown doesn’t sound like much of an improvement over the agapanthus. But Brodiaeas are pretty. Maybe I like agapanthus more than I admit? I’ll still plant the Brodiaea — the Van Engelen catalogue just came, 100 bulbs for $10, such a deal — I just think I’ll have a faint touch of sheepishness when I see it in our gardens for a while. (more…)

Allium Unifolium

Allium unifolium

Allium unifolium

We’ve been starting to add California native bulbs to our home garden and our landscape plantings, and so far, Allium unifolium is one of our favorites. A lot of the native alliums require perfect drainage and a summer dry period and would be difficult to source even if you thought you could get the growing conditions right. A. unifolium, though, is easy to find and grow; we read that it’s supposedly the most clay tolerant of the alliums, and so far that’s been the case. Also, because it’s considered garden worthy (the Dutch like it) and not just for native purists, you can actually find it in sufficient quantities to make an impact in a large garden, where it will spread somewhat aggressively if it’s happy. It’s beginning to bloom in several of our gardens now.

Allium unifolium

Allium unifolium in our garden

We were recently at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden for their native plant sale, and I took pictures of the alliums that were blooming. The bed’s aesthetic (three foot high bed of stone holding 4-12 inch high plants) is more for collectors than for casual visitors, but it has some interesting stuff, of which Allium crispum sounds like the best bet to try in a garden. The Pacific Bulb Society has a good info page for North American alliums. Far West Bulb Farm also has photos and info and might be a source for some of them. I put photos of four alliums and the raised bed below. (more…)

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