Lilium henryi

Lilium henryi

If only we had more space to grow many liliums. Perhaps the garden needs a mezzanine floor.  Such a structure would solve most of our space problems… and grow more liliums.

There are plenty of online resources in relation to the selection and cultivation of species and hybrid liliums. You can also go retro by obtaining relatively cheap books on the subjects. In view of this our general comments will be brief.

Lliliums need a well-drained location with at least half a day of sunshine. If it’s too shady, the stems will stretch and lean towards the sun; trumpet lilies (regales) are the most shade sensitive. Lilies love full sun, as long as the bulbs are deep enough to keep cool when temperatures soar. Good air circulation and spacing of the plants will control disease. If you do see brown spots on the leaves, use any fungicide recommended for roses.

Description and Distribution:
C. China in W. Hubeh and Guizhou. It is tall and graceful, usually growing from 1.2 to 1.8 metres on strong, arching, purple-brown stems. Flowers are light orange reflexed tepals spotted with dark maroon flecks and whiskered with prominent papillae that give it a distinctive and charming character. It is tough and undemanding, needing only sun (with, ideally, a bit of afternoon shade) and a humusy, well-drained soil on the alkaline side of neutral.

Background:
Lilium henryi  was first collected in July 1887 by Augustine Henry on the summit of Moji Shan that stands over the port of Yichang in Hubei, Central China.

We have talked about Augustine Henry before; but a just short recap wouldn’t go astray because he is a true legend in the plant world. Augustine Henry was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1857. He was raised and educated in Ireland, where he trained as a doctor at Queen’s University, Belfast, and graduated in 1878. In 1881 the Chinese Imperial Customs Service, which was a Chinese governmental office that hired mostly Europeans, employed him as an Assistant Medical Officer.

Henry had an uncanny ability with languages and soon spoke Chinese well enough to earn the respect of local officials in Shanghai and improve greatly the efficiency of the customs house. He moved to the remote settlement of Ichang in 1882 where he was assigned the additional task of finding medicinal plants. He soon developed a great love of botany and, as with all things he undertook in life, studied it intently.

Among the many now familiar garden plants that bear his name are clematis henryi and the blue-flowered rhododendron augustinii. Carolinella henryi commemorates his all-too-short relationship with Caroline Orridge whom he married while home on leave in 1891. Caroline was diagnosed with TB.She died in 1894.

He made an enormous contribution to our understanding of Sino Himalayan flora are difficult to calculate, but his ‘amateur’ efforts in collecting and recording hundreds of species helped to launch the explorations of Wilson, Forrest, Ward and many others. He passed away in 1930.

At the time of his death Dr. Henry had in his own private collection approximately ten thousand specimens. His widow, Mrs. Alice Henry (2nd wife-married 1908), assembled and arranged them, a task that took her eight years to complete. She then presented the specimens under “Deed of Gift” to the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, the collection to be known as “The Augustine Henry Forestry Herbarium”. Mrs. Henry, realising that a catalogue of the specimens would be helpful to students and others studying the collection, was instrumental in having this work undertaken. It is to be regretted she did not live to see it completed. She died in 1956.