Columbia or Tiger Lily

August is a good time for lilies in the Northwest.  They are raising their beautiful faces up and gazing out into our gardens.  I’ve seen them grouped together and with other perennials and they look good.  I’ve also seen them standing alone in a bare patch of dirt and they look like they want to get up and move closer to the party.  They seem bare and out of place by themselves, so it’s best to group them with some friends.  There are hundreds of varieties of lilies, the ones pictured below are oriental hybrids which bloom in late summer.   The fragrant flowers are large and loud.  The colors and choices are endless.  Two popular examples are the Stargazer lily and Casablanca (pictured below).   Lilies grow from bulbs and perform best in loose, well-drained soil, moisture year round and sun to part shade.  After thinking on those requirements, the Northwest gardener will realize that adjustments will have to be made.   Loose, well-drained soil?  Most of the soil in our area is heavy clay.  It’s compact and sometimes gardeners have to get out the pick-axe to break up the dirt.  Keep adding compost and organic matter to lighten the soil, providing more space for drainage and nutrients for the plants as well.  Moisture year round?  No problem, except in the summer when things get dry as a bone, just when the lilies are blooming.  A regular irrigation plan during July and August is necessary.  Sunshine???….???  Keep your fingers crossed.   Lilies can also be planted in containers, so when space is tight, try a few of these picturesque flowers in a pot.  One lily that is native to the Pacific Northwest is the Tiger Lily or Columbia Lily.  It’s bright orange flowers with spotted petals are seen in early summer in meadows, forest openings and roadsides.  Because of the spots superstition says that smelling the tiger lily will give you freckles!  Other members of the lily family are onions, garlic, asparagus, tulips, hyacinths and hostas.  It’s interesting to see who is related.  The onion and the lily are cousins!  Lilies are available now as potted plants, but are also sold as bulbs in the fall, so there is no excuse not to add one to the garden anytime of the year.

Casablanca Lily
Roselily 'Double star'

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