Looking Back:
A Few Favorite Posts from 2020

January is the season for looking ahead – which goes hand in hand with looking back, right?

So just in case you missed them, here’s a carefully curated list of . . . well, really it’s just a bunch of our posts from 2020 that we especially liked, and we hope you will, too.

“Is This the Year You Try ‘Freaking Adorable’ Glads?

“Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Dutchman’s Breeches

Breaking News: Grandmother’s Gardens and Heirloom Flowers”

“What’s That Weed? And That One? And That One?!?”

“David Austin: Finding the Future in Antique Roses

Garden Gate’s Top Picks: 3 ‘Thrilling’ Heirloom Lilies

“Will Daffodil Shows Welcome Nameless Historics?

“The Forgotten History of Jute Twine

“219 Dahlias from 1929: ‘Are They All Lost?’”


“My Favorite Lily” –
A Tough, Rose-Tinted Beauty to Plant this Spring

Chuck Robinson’s favorite lily, Lilium speciosum var. rubrum, has “survived wonderfully … for more than ten years” in his zone-6 garden in Kansas City, Missouri.

But that’s just one reason he loves it, he writes in the June 2020 Quarterly Bulletin of the North American Lily Society. Another is that “it blooms late, in mid- to late July and even into August, extending the lily bloom season for us and providing a much-appreciated spot of color during the heat of summer.”

Also L. speciosum is known for its virus resistance,” Chuck adds, “as noted by lily breeder Judith Freeman in discussing her Hall of Fame lily ‘Anastasia’ which has some L. speciosum ancestry.” It’s also thought to be in the DNA of Leslie Woodriff’s ‘Stargazer’. It certainly is an ancestor of Woodriff’s famous ‘Black Beauty’” (which we ship in the fall.)

The most famous L. speciosum cultivar is ‘Uchida’ [which we ship in April]. It is named for Hirotaka Uchida of Japan, who grew and exported bulbs before World War II…. Uchida particularly liked L. speciosum rubrum and selected and cultivated the best forms.

“With Japan’s attack on China and the start of World War II, flower fields in Japan were discouraged in favor of food production. Uchida and his son safeguarded a small cache of L. speciosum clones, however. After the war, when lily bulb exports resumed, the Uchidas exported 60 bulbs to the West.”

The tough, rose-tinted beauty the Uchidas had nurtured for so long “won a gold medal in 1963 at the Internationalle Gartenbau Ausstellung garden exposition in Hamburg, Germany” and before long had become one of the world’s most popular lilies – one that you could enjoy in your garden this summer by ordering now!


Canna ‘Ehemanii’ Stars in
Garden Museum’s Lush New Garden

As part of a major renovation, the courtyard at London’s Garden Museum has been redesigned into a lush, inspiring space – and it features our favorite canna!

“A surreal sense of wonder and of the exotic prevails” in the new garden, as though visitors are “ambling into a Rousseau painting,” says the February 2020 Gardens Illustrated, Since the pioneering horticulturists John Tradescant the Elder and Younger are buried in the garden (the Museum is housed in a former church), designer Dan Pearson wanted the garden to “rekindle the same sense of wonder that 17th-century visitors to the Tradescants’ nursery may have felt.”

Although every plant in the garden “is a treasure in itself, all of them take their place in a cogent, multi-layered composition.” Among the “cast of strong individual characters” is Canna ‘Ehemanii’, which the article describes as one of “the most magnificent of the canna lilies, with considerable heft and stature.” With its “hot pink, gracefully pendulous” flowers nodding over “huge, paddle-shaped leaves,” this striking heirloom is a key player in creating the garden’s “otherworldly atmosphere.”

To add a bit of otherworldly atmosphere to your own garden, why not give ‘Ehemanni’ a try this spring? All it needs is full sun and plenty of water – and having grown it in my own garden for years, I can’t imagine summer without gorgeous, graceful ‘Ehemanii’.