Saturday, March 26, 2011

Play It Again Bogey!

The very old city of Casablanca, in Morocco, has been a beautiful and magnificent area of Africa and it has been the center of destruction and violence.  A combination that continues today. 

The name also recalls the 1942 film, "Casablanca", a story about a man torn between love and virtue.  It's this scene of Bogey and Hepburn's we all remember.   Black-and-white film screenshot of a man and woman as seen from the shoulders up. The two are close to each other as if about to kiss.   

I'm never torn between love and virtue when it comes to the Oriental Lily "Casa Blanca" because it has both and in quantity. 
The Casa Blanca Oriental Lily is hardy in zones 3 through 8 (although cheaper ones may only be hardy to zone 5), making it a great selection for our area.  It tends to be one of the more easy to grow Orientals I've ever planted. 

A few basics:  It is grown from a bulb (it's actually a tuber) and the bigger the better when shopping.  Big bulb = hardier bigger plants.  It should be planted in full sun or edging into a bit of shade.  In this area, it should be planted in early spring to bloom in mid to late summer.  The packages will direct you on how to plant and it must be followed:  the right depth and the right side pointed up are exactly necessary. 

They need good drainage but adequate moisture.  I recommend mulching for appearance, weed control and during the winter cold.  They enjoy slightly acidic soil.  Mine do best when surrounded by lower growing perennials to shade the roots.  Be careful when raking up debris in the spring so you don't cut off the top of emerging plants and end the possibility of blooms for the year. 

When they have finished blooming, you may cut off the short bare flower stems but leave the rest of the stalk and leaves to bring in nutrients for next year's plant.

And now for the gushing:  The flowers are pure white with little bumps (called flocking in the plant world) and bright rust red stamens.  They will grow to about 4 foot tall on hardy stems and have bright dark green leaves.  The flowers may be as large as 10 inches across blooming from the top of the plant in a series of on-going beauty. 

The mega gush:  It has the most wonderful strong perfume of the many lilies offered today.  It's why it's so popular because there are many beautiful Oriental Lilies but to combine it with the intoxicating fragrance is the reason you see it in every catalog and nursery offering bulbs.  

It's often used by florists for bouquets and wedding arrangements.  The meaning of this flower is "celebration."  Picked straight from your garden, one flower will perfume your entire room.  They are elegant, formal and very sturdy.

I suggest you plant several (they often come with three bulbs) to get maximum beauty.  Plant near where you will sit or pass daily during this part of the year.  Planted next to a porch, an evening spent outside can be garden splendor.   It's the perfect addition to a moon garden because the flowers glow at night and the fragrance intensifies. 

Plant a few Casa Blanca lilies and as Humphrey said,
"...I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

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