KOO KOO FOR KUSHI MAYA – MY NEW FAVORITE SUMMER LILY

After a late afternoon summer thunderstorm – complete with small hail and gusty winds, the Kushi Maya lilies remained tall and strong. I expect these stems to be even taller and stronger next summer as the bulbs settle in – this was their first summer in our garden.

Hot, humid mid-summer days would never be the same without the rich scent of true lilies – particualy oriental and trumpet lilies, and most recently, the new Interdivisional lilies (those which are hybrids or crosses between lilies from different divisions, such as trumpets and orientals) which deserve as much praise as any lily today with lily aficionados, for they are changing how we all should think about lilies in the garden.

Blooming this weekend in our garden is one called ‘Kushi Maya’, and I have to tell you – this one surprised me. I kind of suspected that something special was growing ( I ordered three bulbs from the United Kingdom this spring, but really I was just going off of a written description in a catalog, so you never know what it is going to look like). All I can say is this – look – if I am writing a single post about a single lily variety ( and you know I grow dozens of varieties), you can bet that it probably is a pretty awesome lily. This is a very special lily ( and it comes as no surprise that it won Best in Show in 2008 at the Chelsea Flower Show). Still uncommon here in the US, you must track some down now to plant in the fall (when one plants lily bulbs). I am planning to plant around 24 or so for a kick-ass display infront of the greenhouse. I kind-of like to go for the ‘wow factor’.

With a greenish petal, and even a more olive-green reverse, the most striking color is the center, a dark blackberry purple.

Bred by Arie Pederse for H.W. Hyde & Sons in the UK, Kushi Maya is a true ‘terst-tube- baby. What makes is so remarkable is the one of the parents in this complex cross is the very shy bloomer even temperamental lily Lilum nepalense – a treasure in any garden (if one could grow it well) but one which only produces single flowers, and is challenging breed with. We have modern breeding techniques to thank for this lily though, particularly in vivo culture and something known as embryo rescue – a process I am still trying to research but one which seems to be used with many inter-specific lilies. What ‘Kushi Maya’ does so spectacularly well, is takes the coloring and night-time fragrance of rare L. nepalense and then the fragrance and vigor of another complex cross Lilium x auratum x speciosum. The result? An amazing five foot tall stunner – rich with the intense, spicy fragrance any lily lover loves, and a vigor which every lily lover respects.

And that name- ‘Kushi Maya’? It’s is an endearing term for young girls (children) in Nepal. embryo-recovery or embryo rescue techniques – test-tube baby

We have have some lily beetle damage, but very little considering how bad the lily beetle has been in past years. I am hopeful that the University of Rhode Island’s release of a parasitic wasp near us, has reduced the beetle as the past two years have been relatively beetle free.
By Saturday, more flowers opened, and the scent became even stronger, floating across the entire garden.

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