The Golden Trumpets ( Lilium regale hybrids )
Think of Chet Baker in a mellow mood on a summer night, the music drifting in your direction against a background of insects chirping and the sometmes rumble of trucks on the highway and you’ll get a faint approximation of what it’s like to be in our Hudson Valley house when the trumpet lilies are blooming.
Their heavy, classic lily fragrance has a distinct undernote of spice, and while a bouquet’s worth of it indoors would be so intoxicating you’d have a hangover in the morning, having it waft in from the bed under the dining room window is just about perfect.
So much pleasure from so little work!
Close up, you can see why they’re called ‘Golden Splendor’. Good As Gold would be appropriate too; this cultivar is one of the most vigorous.
Trumpet lilies also come in lavender, white, pink, and the maroon-reversed, gold-throated white species original, Lilium regale, still the best in the opinion of many lily connoisseurs.
All of them are easy to grow, as lily-growing goes, but the experts really mean it when they say:
* Plant the bulbs the second they arrive; letting them dry out is – well, not always fatal, but just about guaranteed to set them back a year if not longer.
* Full sun. The species and oriental lilies in the dining room bed lean forward too; even a white house doesn’t emit much light. But the trumpets are the worst. Their natural tendency is to make tall stems with many heavy flowers very near the top, so if they have to do any stretching there will be stakes in your future unless you don’t mind the yearning look.
* Plenty of winter, but not too brutal, zone 5b or 6 is about it. I couldn’t grow them in Maine until the place started warming up, roughly a decade ago.
* New growth is very frost tender. The stems in the picture were almost killed by the late hard frost we had last spring, and a few stems are not in the picture because there was no almost about it.
They do get lily beetles if the beetles are already in residence, otherwise they don’t seem to have bug problems. And where they are happy they (slowly) multiply.
This is ‘Golden Splendor’ in Maine; where (at least in my garden) trumpets still struggle a bit. They have yet to reach New York heights or show any interest in offspring, although I continue to hope. The difference in color in this picture is an artifact of light; the flowers are the same very slightly brassy yellow, with maroon streaks on the reverse.