Saturday, May 31, 2014

Speaking of Tiger Lilies...What's In A Name?

"As the Chinese name for this lily, it was adopted by Ker Gawler in 1810 as Lilium tigrinum
In Japan the name is oniyuri which means ogre-lily. 
Thunberg working on Japanese material named it in 1794 as Lilium lancifolium."  
Above from The Pacific Bulb Society  
Visit them for a nice reference to the many basic varieties.

Google translate has oniyuriオニユリ= tiger lily

In the world of naming things, whoever gets there first wins.  Taxonomists use the earliest documented name.  In this case it wasn't known at first,  but was corrected.  This is not unusual, especially in earlier centuries when communication of discoveries was not as advanced.  You can imagine how important it is to respect this rule! 

From Flora of North America:  
"Throughout most of modern botanical history this Chinese lily has been known as Lilium tigrinum, but recent nomenclatural reassessment affirms that Thunberg’s description, published sixteen years earlier than Ker Gawler’s, applies to this species. 

A nice book I found is Lilies of Japan by  Kabushiki Kaisha. I think the title really is Lilies of Yokohama but that is only a guess.  No text, but many nice illustrations, including his one.

Though many North America species are known vernacularly as tiger lilies, the name is properly applied only to this one. Along with L. candidum, it is considered to be among the earliest domesticated lilies (H. D. Woodcock and W. T. Stearn 1950), no doubt because it is handsome, easy to grow, and the bulbs are edible and substantial. It is widely planted in North America, usually as a sterile triploid that is best propagated from the bulbils.
Perhaps the hardiest garden lily, Lilium lancifolium is a widespread but sporadic garden escape, and roadside lilies near habitation in eastern and northeastern North America are often this species. Despite its general use in gardens, it seems to be naturalized only in the better-watered eastern portion of the continent." 

(In NE CT it spreads like mad given a bit of dirt for the bulbil to fall on.  I suspect tight turf might slow it down.)
There are a few cultivars grown in gardens - (from

L. lancifolium ‘Flore Pleno’ (l.l. Florabunda) which has large double flowers.

L. lancifolium ‘Giganteum’ a larger growing form

L. lancifolium ‘Splendens’  with large glossy flowers of a rich salmon red colour.

L. lancifolium var flaviflorum a yellow purple spotted form which does set seed.

L. lancifolium var. fortunei with densely woolly stems

L. lancifolium var. simplex a single flowered form

L. lancifolium var. plenescens which has six series of petals and sepals.   

Likable Links: 
Pussy cat alert:Although humans eat tiger lily bulbs, all parts of the plant are toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and death. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Extra: A Textile Blog I Follow -Today, Flowers in Textiles

I enjoy this blog written by textile historian, Margy Norrish.  

Today she has a list of books that point you in ways to find out more about the traditions of using flower designs in textiles; a nice starting place for pleasant explorations.

Scarlet Lily Beetles: Know the Enemy - The Definitive Guide to Hand Cleaning Your Lily Patch

I consider myself a first rate search and destroy machine when it comes to the scarlet lily beetle.

Not that they are hard to find.  A fantastic shade of red, they stand out like Xmas lights when they are perched on the top of a leaf in preparation for flight.  And they are eager to fly, unlike many beetles.

Imagine my shock when several years ago they moved into my NE Connecticut county.  I have mentioned how at first I was delighted with these jaunty little fellows.
Below:  Beautiful, aren't they?

Then they ate every asiatic lily I had to death...leaving behind only the tiger lilies which grew faster than the larvae could eat.  The plants looked awful, but not dead. The patch had a zombie appearance with tattered foliage sickly waving in the breezes.

The good news is you can control them by regular handpicking IF your patch isn't big. Mine is only about 10 feet long, on both sides of a walk, with only two or three plants deep on a side.  

After two years of horrendous numbers of beetles I started handpicking seriously.  After one season I noticed a difference but the next year was still very active.  This is the 3rd year of thorough picking and the numbers are small!   They will always be here though because they fly in from some distance. 

On average I only get less than a half dozen of mature beetles a day at the beginning of the season.  One day  in the first onslaught I did get 9...but that is unusual.  Compare the minor hassle of picking beetles  to the advice I found that "if you have the beetles in your area you might as well forget about growing any lilies"!!  Now in the end of May I only get a few a day.  The new June crop is coming though...they are pupating in the soil as I type if I missed any.

Adult beetle hunting:

Start the hunting season as soon as your lilies show.  Mine were only two or three inches tall when I noticed the first beetle.

Their first line of defense is the old stop, drop and roll.  When severely alarmed they let go and slide down the leaf, sometimes landing in the leaf axil where you can get them.  However, if you are hesitant to hurt the foliage too much they may have a moment's reprieve and do some fancy footwork to get out of there and drop to the ground where they take advantage of their black underside and role over and become invisible!!

Now, I have not scientifically tested this statement, but if one drops to the ground you can't find it 95% of the time.  If you wait around, in about 5 minutes you may spot it walking towards the plants.  I should think there would be a better chance than 5% to land shiny red side up....thats why I assert the damn things have an effective strategy against hunters that aren't put off by their snazzy "don't-eat-me-on-pain-of-poisoning" red elytra!!

My hunting technique is to first eyeball your whole stand of lilies for the mating pairs who are indiscreetly boffing in public (most pick a more private under leaf boudoir).  Also you will find the ones standing on their little patent leather shod tippy-toes getting ready to launch in the air.  Go for the air boys first, bringing your hands quickly to the spot with one over and one under the leaf and scrape the little dude off his perch.  Toss to ground and quickly squish.  The mating pairs are approached in a similar manner...don't forget the underneath hand as these pairs fall off most often.

If the mating pair break up, go for the one not in the leaf axil first.  Leaf axil sitters can be crunched by gently squeezing leaf from behind later, although I get them out of there, not taking any chances.

On warm days you can go back in an hour and clean up adults again.  Everything slows down on cool days so you can lower your vigilance somewhat.

Egg and larva patrol:

This is where I can save you some time. You sort of triage the patch.

First, if you found a mating pair, look around there more closely.
Second, if you note a peppering of itsy-bitsy black beetle poop that is more noticeable than usual, look there.  If beetles have been hanging out somewhere for any length of time they were probably mating.

As the season goes on you will have a lull in beetles, but they will return full force again in June.

Egg and larva checks and removal:

To quickly check for eggs start low on the stem and run the foliage up through your circled thumb and forefinger.  Look at the underside as you go.  You will see the eggs, or feel eggs, or see them on your fingers and go back and find them.  This only takes a few seconds to check, and a few more to scrape off the eggs.  Older eggs turn dark brown, but the new ones stand out.

In spite of everything you will miss a couple.  Sometimes the eggs knock off the leaf and I think they fall down into a leaf axil.  The chewed up leaf is easy to spot but don't miss too many days in a row as these things work REALLY fast!  If you see this transparent stripped from underneath leaf condition the larva will be there.

They are nasty little buggers.  Covering themselves with poop they are icky to scrape off.  I do it when they are young and smear off my fingers on the sidewalk :-)  When they are a bigger poopy blob I have to admit I pinch off a bit of leaf (it look awful anyway) and step on it.  Nyar-har-har...

Sounds odd, but I feel the plants appreciate the care.  One certainly gets to know them well!
For more information go to the following site.  Good info on parasitoid controls.  I tried the Neem route one year but I really dislike the smell!  It registers as garlic to my nose, not a scent I want in my flower border.

Following from -

The lily leaf beetle (LLB) is native to Europe and was discovered near Montreal, Canada in 1945. Its damage was limited to the Montreal area for decades, until discovered in the United States in 1992 in Cambridge, MA. It is thought that LLB arrived in a shipment of lily bulbs from Europe. Since then, LLB has spread throughout much of Massachusetts and is working its way throughout New England. Lily leaf beetles are strong fliers and are also moved from one area to another on host plants. Both the immature stage and adults cause damage by eating the leaves and buds. Adults and larvae are commonly found together devouring lily foliage. Often, they consume all the leaves leaving only bare stems.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Playing with Moonflowers

Yesterday's post lured me into having some art fun!  Here are variations on  the Bolgiano moonflower engraving.  These would make lovely bookplates if you add a blank area into the lower foliage.

Here is one for a bookplate. It prints at 3.5 " wide.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bolgiano & Son: The Great Catalog Divide - Engravings vs. Photographs

The 1903 catalog of J. Bolgiano & Son was straddling the artwork/photograph divide.  Colorful lithographs still deliver the punch of cover color that is so attractive, while black & white engravings and photographs illustrate the plants inside the catalog.  

The photographs are poor, at least by today's standards, but I guess buyers might feel more confidence in them than the stylized engravings. But the engravings give you more dreaming room...and I think some people might have preferred them.  This period of catalogs, before higher quality photo printing, is awkward to say the least.

 The building in this 1903 catalog (below) was soon to be devoured in the 1904 fire.

This is a charming engraving!  


The lovely crisp crease lines in a cosmos petal are visible in the photo but they aren't brought to the buyers attention as a line drawing would.

The photo is OK, but the engraving more clearly shows the architecture of the flower.
It isn't the most enchanting illustration though.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Panama Canal vs. 97 Feet of the Bolgiano Seed House

Ninety-seven feet of brick wall, in fact, the whole west side of the Bolgiano seed building in 1917, was about to be acquired by eminent domain by the City of Baltimore to clear the way for the new Key Highway project!
Key, as in Francis Scott.

Having to remove the side wall of your business is a real bummer.

The Key Highway was needed to serve the increased movement of goods due to the Panama Canal, when it opened, increasing the shipping to the port of Baltimore.
When oceans embrace, of what consequence is 97 feet of brick?

But, there is a happy ending...

Below is a map showing the old grid of streets before the highway project, and the location of Bolgiano's property (maybe).

More on the canal at the bottom of this post.

Mentioned before but worth a look if you haven't already is

Here is Baltimore's argument for taking the wall...and the compromise.

From Wikipedia: The road was laid out to a width of 160 feet (50 m) from Light Street to Locust Point in the early 1910s, providing better access to the new city-owned piers in preparation for increased trade via the Panama Canal and existing steamship lines to Europe. It was named Key Highway because it was originally planned to extend to Fort McHenry, near where Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." However, the extension of the road to the fort was never built. A rail line ran the length of Key Highway, connecting to the tracks in Pratt Street via Light Street. A two-lane extension of the highway and rail line was built in 1930, branching off the old route east of Ludlow Street and running south under Fort Avenue to McComas Street. The short portion of the old road east of the extension is now East Key Highway; the rail tracks have been removed.

The Canal Record - October 9, 1907
Notes of Progress.
The Cucaracha Slide at its Old Tricks.
Owing to the heavy rainfalls of the past few weeks, the Cucaracha slide, which remains quiet during the dry season, has again begun to move.  This slide is on the east side of the Canal about half a mile south of Gold Hill, and first began to move in 1884 or 1885, during the time of the old French company.  It gave this company a good deal of trouble during the entire time that operations were in progress in this vicinity; but its movement ceased soon after the failure of the old company in 1889.  It remained practically quiescent during the entire period of  control by the new French company, the reason being that no operations in the Canal in this vicinity were carried on by that company.  With the resumption of work by the United States in 1905, the slide again began to move, and has continued to give more or less trouble during every wet season since.  The total amount of material in movement is estimated at about 500,000 cubic yards.  The plan pursued heretofore has been to attack the slide during the dry season with steam shovels, cutting as wide a berm as possible in the material outside of the limits of the prism, so that, during the wet season, the moving material would be caught on the berms and would not get into the Canal.   The movement during the present season has been more rapid than usual and the berms have been filled up, permitting a part of the material to get into the Canal prism.  Shovel No. 223 was caught by the moving mass of material on October 4, and was extricated unimpaired on October 6.  Shovel No. 109 was also caught, but was pulled out by the wrecking train on October 5.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

1904 Data Recovery: J. Bolgiano & Son Seed Company's Sad Story

With all the news of hackers infiltrating large businesses and stealing sensitive information I think many of us have forgotten how in the early years our first concerns of other people holding our data was about backups - did they have sufficient safely placed redundancy to repair data destroyed by "acts of god"?.  

Here is a 20th century seed story that just makes you quietly shake your head at the complexity of data recovery.
American Poultry Advocate, 1904
It is more than probable that every reader of this paper has heard of the wonderfully disastrous fire which so recently burned the heart out of the city of Baltimore. Unless you just happened to know some one who was living or doing business in Baltimore, it is likely that you gave the fire hardly more than a passing thought. But what do you think it means to the people of Baltimore? What do you thing it means for instance, to J. Bolgiano & Sons,

the seedsmen who have for eighty-seven years been doing business In the fated city? In all that long period they have never before suffered from fire. Indeed, they felt perfectly safe this time, for when the fire first started it was more than ten city squares away from them. Later, and when they thought they were endangered — though the fire was still six squares from them — they employed two hundred hands and fifty drays and began the removal of their large retail seed stock to one of their warehouses a long distance from the fire, and where they felt everything would be safe. It transpired, however, that by a shifting of the winds the fire ate relentlessly away until both retail stores, offices, packing rooms and warehouses were destroyed. Bolgianos made a brave fight to save the orders and seeds for their thousands of customers, but fate was against them. The orders already booked and the lists of names of multiplied thousands of customers all over the world were lost in the twinkle of an eye.
With absolutely nothing to work with, nothing to aid them except their fair name and excellent reputation, the Bolgianos have set to work with firm hands and brave hearts to rebuild their business. They have already laid in a large stock of the very best farm and garden seeds, notwithstanding the short seed crop of the past season, and will be able to fill orders as usual. Since all their advance orders and names of customers are burned, they have very little to begin on. Will those of our readers who ordered from Bolgiano & Sons write a postal card at once, simply giving your name and post office address? Do this whether you are an old or new customer of theirs. Send them your name anyhow, so that they may send you their catalogue another season. Simply address the card to J. Bolgiano & Sons, Baltimore, Md.