The hybrids of the common Easter Lily (L. longiflorum)
with Asiatics are finally finding a solid place in the garden market. When first released in the early 1990’s we believe those early selections were highly overrated. The first hybrids released were prone to fading, petals blowing off in the wind, and worst of all, many went down quickly to virus or bulb rot. All the hype about "the lilies to replace all lilies" in the garden soon fizzled. Never properly tested for their hardiness in the garden, they were rushed to market as being the "newest and the best" only to turn off many home gardeners when they realized they had wasted their money. Never replacing pure Asiatics as some breeders had originally thought, they were all but forgotten by gardeners who were discouraged by those early introductions.
The same is true now with many of the new 'OT' introductions finding their way to market. The 'OT's' are considered the "hot" item now and many non-specialist companies are scrambling for whatever they can get their hands on to slap onto the web. We just smile and shake our heads whenever we see a "new" or "exclusive" variety that we discarded following actual garden trials. Some varieties that are now being promoted as "the best" or "must have" by others can be found rotting in our compost heap.
A perfect example is the OT 'Golden Stargazer'. We planted 50 bulbs the first year it came out of Holland. That summer over 40% showed serious signs of virus. The following year, it was 100%. The real kicker was that during a wind storm one night, ALL of the petals were torn off 'Golden Stargazer' (probably brittle due to the virus) where none of the other lilies were damaged. It can still be found in numerous catalogs and websites. A great forcing variety in the greenhouse for cut flower production, it is readily available from Dutch bulb brokers at a rather inexpensive price. It is usually promoted as "the first", or "a color breakthrough" which are both true, but "garden lily" is not a title we would give it. There is only one way for a lily to prove itself and that is through time and under all garden conditions. Just because it came from Holland and you found it on the web doesn't mean it will flourish in your garden.
We feel that the breeding work done by the late Don Egger of Portland, Oregon, is what gave the "LA" hybrids their real push. Don never lost hope or his dream that the LA's would truly find a solid place in the garden as they are now doing. It was Don who persuaded us not to jump on the early bandwagon as so many of the huge "we got it all" mail order companies did. Over the years we walked hundreds of acres of Don’s seedlings taking notes, selecting promising garden candidates and marveling how each generation was so much better than the generation before. Hundreds of photos were taken with our then young daughter posing with the LA’s looking towards a future when they could truly be called "garden lilies". Further breeding done in Holland (much of it based on Don's work) has brought about today’s truly garden worthy hybrids. But still, as with all new generations of hybrids, you can only find the best by doing actual, multi zonal garden trials. Many of the varieties we now offer here were brought to being by the breeding work of Vletter den Haan in Holland, a leader in LA Hybrid breeding.
We grow only what we feel is the cream of today’s modern LA hybrids. Selected from well over 100 varieties that can be found on the market today, these are the ones that have really stood out and have excelled in our garden trials. They love mild winter areas, as the bulbs do not need the cold winter reset time (veneralization) for blooming the next season. Our Southern customers have raved about their early plantings of these garden gems and our Southern California test base gardeners are begging for more!
Though perfectly at home in the Southern Garden, the LA hybrids are also perfectly at home in the cold winter climates with the severe climate zones that thaw slowly in the spring and go directly into "summer" without periods of late heavy frost alternating with saturating rainfall. The LA’s have thrived in even Zone 2 with winter mulch. The only problems our garden trials have shown are in the areas that get very late, killing frosts coupled with saturated soil. Where pure Asiatics are able to come through unharmed, the LA’s because they come up so early, sometimes have their buds frozen. Customers in such areas have reported that flower pots inverted over the newly emerging stems, loose straw, or other light material is enough to protect the tender, young buds.
This is our largest single introduction of LA’s. With several dozen more named varieties and thousands of seedlings being evaluated, this offering will continue to grow as varieties prove themselves worthy of the gardens of our customers across the US.
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