When I come in from the garden, my clothes, face and arms are smudged with orange and brown — pollen from bending over to inhale the heavy and heady scent of lilies.
The lily season is in full bloom — and it’s glorious. Asiatics and trumpets are pretty, but it’s the elegant and intensely fragrant Oriental and Orienpets, heirloom varieties like “Rubrum” and “Turk’s Cap” and freckled face tiger lilies that are my absolute favorites.
What could be more dramatic than all those towering, thick stalks stooped a little from the weight of a half-dozen or more salad plate or large-sized blooms? Even one blossom in a small vase on the window sill is enough to envelop the whole kitchen in perfume.
In the spirit of you-can-never-have-too-much of a good thing, I’ve already marked my selections in the fall catalogs. Fall is the season for planting lily bulbs, and I plan to do my share. Take a look at some of these lilies I’d like to add to my collection.
Giant Orienpets: A cross between Oriental and trumpet lilies, Orienpets have massive blooms and incredible fragrance, mid- to late-summer bloomers. Three new varieties include “Purple Lady,” with purple-pink 8-inch flowers with green centers and cream midrib; “Lily Urandi,” pale pink 8-inch flowers with pure light yellow centers; and “Boogie Woogie,” huge yellow blooms edged in pink. Not new, but still worth having: “Anastasia,” two-tone pink with recurved petals and “Debby,” 6 to 7 inch flowers in an unusual dark pink and orange combo.
Asiatics: These are among the first lilies to grace the summer garden. “Apricot Fudge” is a unique double flowering Asiatic said to resemble a rose, and “Graffitti” is aptly named for its large yellow blooms splotched and speckled with maroon.
Tiger lilies: I have a particular fondness for the classic orange and black speckled hybrid tiger lilies because I can remember them in my grandfather’s garden. But it’s not the only tiger. Look for “Night Flyer,” a deep red, almost black flower with black spots — a real drama queen — and the more delicate “Salmon Tiger,” in salmon pink with a butter cream center.
Old-fashioned lilies: These lilies are hardy, fragrant and multiply. On my list of must-haves is “Iankongense,” with pink reflexed segments and deep purple spots, and “Fusion,” red 6-inch blooms speckled in black with yellow centers.