Update in July 2011: Here is a photo of the Humboldt lily in my garden, taken on the 4th of July. My niece called it the hot air balloon plant!
Now back to the original post:
For those of you who have been following my blog posts, I skipped April, May and June on my “seasonal color” theme. Never fear – those are our best months for color, and you probably have flowers galore in your native garden without even trying. Perhaps I was intimidated by the sheer volume of choices. We can catch up next year.
This month, our gardens in Southern California are starting to dry out and rest for summer dormancy, after a phenomenal spring season supported by exceptional rainfall. Evergreen shrubs like Coffeeberry and Manzanita now prepare to earn their keep as the staples that keep our front yards looking fresh after the flush of new spring growth is done.
Just as the spring flowers are declining, there is a surprise in the back of my garden. I almost forgot about that Humboldt Lily bulb! It has been quietly thriving just beneath a Mountain Mahogany tree, the roots shaded, and the flower stalk has grown up without attracting attention. But the bright orange flowers are blaring out from the corner of my garden now. This photo of the same species was taken at Tree of Life Nursery in 2009:
Humboldt Lily (Lilium humboldtii) is native to many parts of the state, and in Southern California it thrives in shady or partly shady woodland situations, with very good drainage. In the summer, once per month waterings can be tolerated but aren’t necessary. The flower stalk rises just about to eye level, and the clusters of flowers may be supported by a nearby shrub or tree branch, or stand on its own. Bulbs or plants can be difficult to obtain, so keep an eye out for one at your local native plant nursery or chapter plant sale, and don’t pass it up if you have the right garden conditions.
Do you have a native Lily bulb growing in your garden? I’d love to hear about it.