In December 2013 the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the New Zealand Lily Society signed an agreement to co-operate in promoting the genus Lilium in the Gardens.
Our first priority is to enhance the Garden's collection of species lilies (or 'wild' lilies).
We have received many generous donations of seed from overseas, and these seeds are now being raised by Society members.
This agreement represents a very exciting opportunity for the Society to help establish a significant collection of Lilium species in an ideal location. The Gardens has a wide range of habitats, including leaf mould sheltered by very tall trees, which suits so many lilies and is hard to provide in a suburban garden. The publicly-owned institution of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens will maintain and protect the collection over time. The local soils and climate are the envy of gardeners worldwide, and it should be possible to culticate almost any lily in the Gardens.
Lilies appear throughout many cultures, in dozens of different ways, often in a high profile manner.
It’s not surprising, considering there are over 100 genuses of lily recorded - although there are also some imposters (calla lilies and water lilies - which aren’t lilies at all!).
Lilium bulbs often feature in Asian culinary or herbal roles. Many are starchy and edible as root vegetables (although some varieties can be very bitter). From flavouring soups to types of custard, to medicinal tonics, there are some commonly used lilies who have found a real niche in the food world as popular ingredients.
However, don’t try this at home because many varieties are poisonous to humans.
Many lilium species are toxic to cats - even when just licking lily pollen off their fur, which can lead to renal failure and even death.
In the ancient Egyptian empire, the lily symbolised innocence, which carried through medieval times into the Victorian era.
(The Egyptians also turned lilies into perfume, as a frag...