Monday, August 4, 2014

Martagon Lilies

Martagon lilies are a Eurasian group of the genus Lilium comprised of five species:  L. martagon,  L. hansonii, L. tsingtauense,  L. medeoloides,  and L. distichum  and their hybrids. 
Martagons have the largest geographic distribution of any division of the genus Lilium, the five species are closest in “kin” (chromosomal) than any other group of species.
They are only found in the Northern hemisphere in environments characterized by cold winters and short summers. Generally they thrive in deciduous forests, in alpine conditions just above the tree-line and in the alluvial soils of river systems.

From the garden

Highly adaptive plants these lilies present a marvelous natural geometry, emerging from warming soils as spherical domes the foliage emerges as rosettes of whorled leaves elongating into ascending towers topped with nodding buds which unfold into a symmetrical candelabra of down-facing (turk’s cap) flowers.
I have written about martagons in past postings as great shade garden companions for cold climates. All parts of martagon lilies are of great beauty.

It was a very good year for martagon lilies. They were gorgeous in my garden, the bloom season weather was fine, flowering lasted for weeks. I also photographed an NALS, North America Lily Society ( show sponsored by the North Star Lily Society, ( in Bloomington MN. The show displayed over 100 martagon spikes, many seedlings, mostly from Canada.

Earlier in March I attended a talk Martagons: The Toughest Lilies of Them All” by Dr. Ieuan Evans. It was informative to hear of his method of breeding.  (See the NSLS site) I have used the process outlined by E. Eugene Fox in his book Martagon Lilies which was available through NALS. I used this process for myself and Hartle-Gilman who sold through Faraway Flowers. Today; Doc Gilman has passed away, Jan Hartle had a stroke and Faraway Flowers has discontinued business. The current owners of Hartle-Gilman have sold bulbs through master gardener plant fairs throughout Minnesota and wholesale to NSLS. At one time this collection was one of the largest in North America.
 Photos from the show, most are unnamed seedlings.