The recent cold weather makes me long for spring and summer.
One way to get your mind on warm weather is to pick out seeds and bulbs from catalogs. There's nothing like flipping through catalogs on a 20-degree morning to give you hope for warmer weather.
While you look through bulb catalogs, keep your eye out for Lilium 'White Heaven.'
Lilium 'White Heaven' is a fabulous variety of Easter lily that doesn't have to be relegated to a pot indoors during the Easter season. (Easter lilies do well outdoors but don't expect them to bloom at Easter in the landscape. When planted outdoors, Easter lilies bloom in late spring-summer.)
In lily trials we did at Riverbanks over the past three seasons, 'White Heaven' was a clear standout. Not only did it look fabulous in bloom, but it also came back each year better than before.
In spring, Lilium 'White Heaven' begins to emerge from the ground. By the end of May, established plants can reach 6 feet tall.
For a period of several weeks in late May into June, 'White Heaven' will amaze you with up to 10 enormous, trumpet-shaped white flowers per stem. The flowers are clearly the reason for growing this plant, although the green, lance-shaped leaves that radiate up and down the stems are attractive and last well into the summer.
Lilium 'White Heaven' is typically grown from bulbs. Bulbs can be planted in fall or spring and should be planted two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall. They prefer full sun to light shade and do best in rich, well-drained soil. I recommend planting bulbs at least 12 inches apart, if not further. Each bulb will form offsets fairly rapidly, so you may need to divide the clumps every three to five years depending on growth.
I have found through our trials that 'White Heaven' does not require much supplemental water.
Because it is so tall, Lilium 'White Heaven' should be planted toward the middle or back of a bed. I would not plant it in a location where you need a focal point for the entire season; you will get a spectacular bloom but only for a few weeks.
Several clusters of bulbs planted around the garden could make a dramatic impact, especially if you're planning an early June garden party.
Check your bulb catalogs to see if Lilium 'White Heaven' is offered. Let the pure white blooms of Lilium 'White Heaven' brighten your spring.
Andy Cabe is the botanical garden director at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.