Sunday, July 12, 2020

Canada Lilies

There are only three true lilies native here in the Northeast, and one of them is the Canada Lily, or Lilium canadense. (Our other native lilies are Turk's Cap Lily and Wood Lily.)

Canada Lily
Three years ago I bought three lily plants from Garden in the Woods, a native garden and nursery, and planted them in the gazebo garden.  They took a bit to get established, but now are flourishing.

Sometimes also called wild yellow-lily or meadow lily, Canada lilies are native to eastern North America and found in open woodlands, moist meadows, and savannas.  They prefer dappled or partial sunlight and medium to moist soil and are hardy from zone 3 to 9.

My lilies bloomed for about three weeks from the later part of June through early July, with gorgeous apricot and yellow flowers, freckled underneath.  Canada lilies may be different in coloration, though, ranging from yellow to red-orange.

These lilies attract Halictid bees (aka sweat bees) and large butterflies such as Swallowtails and Great Spangled Fritillaries.  The only thing I actually noticed enjoying my Canada lilies, however, was a hummingbird.  I got some great pictures of it... if only the memory card had been in my camera.

I keep all my lilies in my protected gazebo garden so that the deer don't eat them.  I have spotted a few of the invasive Lily Leaf Beetles in my garden, but on my other, non-native lilies.  It's the first time I've really noticed the beetle in my garden.  They have released several parasitic wasps throughout New England for a biological control, so I do hope that they won't become a problem.

Historically Canada lily was used medicinally for such things as stomach disorders, dysentery, rheumatism, irregular menstruation, and snake bites.  The buds and roots of these lilies were traditionally eaten by Native Americans, and the bulbs are said to have a bitter or peppery flavor.  Some sources label the lily roots as 'starvation food' eaten in times of famine, so I don't think I shall be trying them any time soon.

I would rather have the flowers in my garden anyway.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Towards the end of strawberry-picking season and before the blueberries start, there is the picking of the Juneberries.

Never heard of Juneberries?  I hadn't either until about three or four years ago.  In fact, 'Juneberry' is a more recent American marketing name for the harder-to-pronounce but much-more-fun name of Saskatoon berry.

Also historically known as pigeon berries or serviceberries, these shrubs are native to North America.  The species commercially grown is Amelanchier alnifolia, which is a close cousin of our Eastern serviceberry (A. canadensis), which commonly grows around here.  The berries are more well-known in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan, which holds a Saskatoon Berry Festival in the town of Mortlach every year (except this year, thanks to Covid-19).

The name of 'Saskatoon' is said to be from the Cree language word misâskwatômina (Mis-sack-qua-too-mina), which means “the fruit of the tree of many branches”.  The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has similar origins.  Historically the berries were often used in pemmican, as well as used medicinally for a variety of illnesses.  The berries also feed various wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and bears, and the shrubs are a larval host for several swallowtail butterflies.

Juneberry/Saskatoon berry plants are deciduous and grow in a wide range of soils, though they prefer well-draining spots.  They can be grown as shrubs or small trees and can reach 16 feet tall.  White flowers bloom in spring, followed by the berries in late June or early July.  The berries are very nutritious, containing high levels of protein, iron, calcium, and antioxidants.

picking Juneberries
A local farm started offering Juneberry picking, and last year we tried them for the first time. The taste is said to be sweet with hints of almond and cherry.  The kids especially were excited to try them - but upon tasting them we found them to be not that great raw.  They were sweet, but on the tart side, and rather watery and seedy.  So I baked them into a pie...

Juneberry pie
...and wow.  It was absolutely delicious!  My oldest daughter, who had never cared for a fruit pie in her life, enjoyed it immensely.  One year later, she is still talking about that pie.  This is obviously a fruit that improves upon baking.

Juneberry picking season has just started here, and the farm is letting small numbers of people come pick on appointment, so we will be cautiously venturing out for more Juneberry acquisition.

Wish us luck (and many juneberries/saskatoon berries)!
Happy gardening!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

One Scarlet Poppy

Last year I planted 'Bridal Silk' Shirley Poppies in the gazebo garden.

The pure white annual poppies looked beautiful, a nice foil to lilies and delphinium.

Interestingly enough, one red poppy seed made it into the packet of white poppy seeds.  I was amused and let it be in the garden.

But that one scarlet poppy had an effect. The plants seeded around in the garden, and this year, several of the poppies that came up are... a little different.

A few have blush pink edged petals.


A couple others look even more like (what I'm assuming is) their red-flowered parent.

It is interesting to see what effect just one poppy had on my little garden of flowers.

It makes me wonder what next year's garden would look like if I keep the red and orange ones in, though they do not quite go with my more pastel-themed front garden.

But how beautiful is that?

Happy gardening!

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