Garden Talk: Summer Flowers And More

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

This week on “Garden Talk,” Larry Meiller finds out what’s currently in bloom at the Allen Centennial Gardens in Madison. Plus, answers to your gardening questions!

Featured in this Show

  • Botanical Gardens Offer Inspiration, Examples For Home Gardeners

    It’s easy to look at meticulously planned and maintained botanical gardens and think that a home garden could never be as lovely. But Ed Lyon wants to change that.

    “One of my goals … has been to segment areas down. Because we know if it looks too vast and too imposing, the homeowner’s going to say, ‘Well, that looks gorgeous, but I’m not going to be able to do that at home,’” said Lyon, the director of the Allen Centennial Gardens (ACG) on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

    “We also try to make things not so ‘fancy,’ if you will … because our primary mission is to be a teaching garden. We try to demonstrate things in a way that homeowners will say, ‘Hey, I can do this, I can take this idea home with me,’” Lyon added.

    One of the areas of the garden that are especially inspiring and lovely are the lily beds. Lyon said there are “masses and masses” of lily blooms right now, and that it’s been a particularly good year for them. He estimates that the Gardens have at least 40 varieties in bloom right now.

    Lyon shared that a few years ago, he discovered a hybrid called Orienpet. It’s a cross of the old regal lilies, which he describes as “the great big, tall trumpet lilies with fragrance,” with a couple of other species. The B&D Lilies Co., from whom Lyon has ordered them, says on their website that the name comes from Oriental and trumpet.

    Lyon likes the Orienpet lilies because they are very tall and showy, and thanks to their very rigid stems, can hold their several blooms without breaking. He reported that visitors used to the shorter Oriental lilies are amazed at the height and the number of blooms on a single stalk.

    To locate those Orienpet lilies, Lyon said, visitors to ACG can follow their noses.

    “They’re right by the entrance, and the fragrance is almost overwhelming,” he said.

    To prove that home gardeners can duplicate what they enjoy at a botanical garden in their own yard, Lyon said that the only lilies he now grows at home are the Orienpets. He said that there are several different cultivars available. When buying these or any lily bulbs, Lyon said to look for large bulbs when purchasing them. That means that they have a lot of room to store energy.

    For home horticulturalists who are still feeling intimidated, here is something to keep in mind. The 2.5 acres of ACG are staffed by one full-time person, Lyon, plus volunteers and seasonal student interns.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Ed Lyon Guest

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