I was pleased to be growing and evaluating Darm's hybrids. Unfortunately due to hail and personal issues I was unable to get an accurate evaluation their first few years in the ground here (starting 2008). Once I was able to do so, my bad luck continued. Scroll down to the page bottom to read the updates.
Pictured here is Darm Crook, myself and Terry Willoughby (l to r). Photo taken at the NALS 2007 show in Edmonton, AB.
- BEHCHOKO NWT -
- ENTERPRISE NWT - 2001 (2007) A very open raceme inflorescence, 100mm pedicels, flowers open with a rusty orange overlay over a bright pink that burns off in a day or so, as this happens the pink colouration intensifies and there is only a trace of the overlay remaining on the edge of each tepal. This next to non fading pink that emerges on day 2 or 3. Grows to 1 M tall, blooms late July in NWT. [Ic/d]
- FORT LIARD NWT - 2000 (2007) Fiery orange with deep red tips and large spotting. Raceme inflorescence, tepals lightly spotted in nectary area only. Grows to .8 M tall, blooms in July. [Ia/b]
- FORT PROVIDENCE NWT - 2000 (2007) Golden yellow with deeper gold towards the tips. Raceme inflorescence, flower extremely spotted with a few pencil marks. Grows to .9 M tall, blooms July. [Ib/c]
- FORT RESOLUTION NWT - 2001 (2007) Grows 1 M tall, blooming July. Very pretty yellow with vivid orange tips and a frosted orange throat, lots of spots. Raceme inflorescence; secondary buds; foliage dense mid range green. Darm says it`s a mass producer of bulblets and grows fast. He expects it will be as virus tolerant as l. hollandicum, which is a pod parent. He feels the colouration may not make this one as desirable for some gardeners but it`s a very worth while lily to be growing in the garden! [Ia/b]
- FORT SIMPSON NWT - 2003 (2007) This lily came from open pollinated seed collected in Manitoba by a fellow named Don Allen. Vivid red tips lead to yellow centers with a few spots. Grows just over 1 M tall, blooms July. [Ia/b]
- FORT SMITH NWT - 2002 (2007) Beautiful rose pink with excellent flower substance,and slightly scented to make it more attractive. Grows 1 M tall, blooms July. Raceme inflorescence, secondary buds, and bright dark green foliage. [Ib/d]
- HAY RIVER NWT - 2002 (2007) Very nice, deep wine red, the inflorescence is a combination of umbel and raceme form - the bottom row is umbel every bud above that row is in a raceme form. The umbel portion of the inflorescence has flower pedicels 105cm long, the lowest raceme flowers has a pedicel 100cm long, from there up each pedicel gets shorter until the very top ones which are 50cm long. When in full flower this provides for an inflorescence in the shape of a cone. Grows just under 1 M tall, blooms late July in NWT. [Ib/d]
- MOJEEMOO - 2000 (2007) Named for Darm's grand daughter, using a nickname she was given. Bright candy pink petals with a hint of cream then bright yellow and lots of spots. Holds its color well in the sun. Grows .8 M tall, blooming late July. Umbel inflorescence with secondary buds. The florets are slightly cupped or bowl shaped but generally flat. [Ia/b-c]
- NORTHWEST TERRITORIES NWT - 2001 (2007) This hybrid came from a Fellner seedling x an unregistered Bert Porter hybrid. Grows 1 M tall, blooms mid July. Very sparse spotting on orange petals with red tips. [Ia/c]
- YELLOWKNIFE NWT - 2001 (2007) A sibling to Northwest Territories, grows 1 M tall, blooming in July. Excellent show in the garden with the bright colors of orange and yellow blending perfectly at the tips and throat. Some spotting is present. [Ia/c]
To follow is an autobiography written by Mr. Crook, for the ARLS Newsletter when he was a guest speaker at a seminar hosted by the Alberta Regional Lily Society in Fall 2006. Darm presented an interesting and intriguing seminar to a spell-bound audience, the topic if I recall correctly, was regarding his growing methods in the Northwest Territories, in particular his experiences with species lilies.
I was raised on a farm 8 miles South West of Humboldt Saskatchewan. One of my chores was to help Mother in the garden, where in she always had a few lilies growing. Over the years various lilies came and went in her garden but one persisted and still grows in my gardens, L. x Hollandicum. There were also a few L. philadelphicum that grew on the farm we simply referred to them as the wild lily. When I was 11 or12 years of age a trip was made to Saskatoon. During that trip we had an opportunity to tour Dr. C. Patterson`s lilies, I was simply amazed, it was the first time I had ever seen a pendent lily. Until that point in time I had assumed all lilies had up right flowers. The image of those various pendent lilies has stayed with me, even now, in my mind that visit is like yesterday. These points, Mother's gardens, L. philadelphicum, Dr. Patterson`s lilies plus the simple beauty of the lily is where I attribute my developed fascination for growing and hybridizing lilies.
By 1965 I was already well into in a carpenter apprenticeship and it was the year we were married. We rented a small 3 room house on a town lot, that fall the first thing planted was a few lilies. In 1969, by then I was an interprovincial journeyman carpenter, we moved to the Northwest Territories, it was the place to be to make good money. Everyone here said lilies could not be grown, it was said they winter killed. After our first winter I decided that the winters were not much different then Saskatchewan's so in the fall of 1970 I brought a few lilies up, a couple bulbs from each of the ones I had been growing in Saskatchewan. They wintered well and put on their show of splendor the following summer.
Already having our home built on an acreage 6 miles south of Hay River in the early 1980`s I tried my first lily hybridizing attempts. I had though about doing it for a few years but just never took that first step, pluck an anther and apply the pollen to another lily. I managed to get seed that grew but lost the seedlings to their first winter. So the learning curve started. Our library had no books on lilies, I never knew how to use a computer and we never had one and could not have one as we were on a party line. I never knew organizations such as the ARLS, the CPLS, NALS or the RHS lily group existed. So it was learn by trial and error, there were some dismal failures and some great successes I enjoyed every minuet success or failure. From that first hybridizing attempt onward a few lilies were cross pollinated every year, a few seeds were planted, a few seedlings were grown. By the time I retired, September of 1997, the kinks were worked out or so I though. In January of 1998 the employer called me back. I agreed to go back to work until the end of March 1999. After my final retirement my efforts with the lilies really mushroomed; so much so that I plant out around 1000 seedlings every spring. My seedling losses, by southern standards are probably high; some upon transplanting out, some to their first winter and some to the winter following their first flowering. Although I do everything I can to ensure the seedlings growing success I have learned to accept the loses as Mother Nature's way of culling the weak ones.
My first species L. dauricum, L. davidii variety unicolor and L. cernuum was planted in the late 1970`s they or their clones plus seedlings from them still grow here. After that almost every year a few species have been added to my gardens. Growing them was also a major learning endeavor but I`v reached a point where I have around 40 species growing in my gardens, I include the types various varieties in this count. I still endeavor to add a new species or two to my gardens every year. This however is now done mostly by seed acquired through NALS or the RHS seed exchanges. It seems to me that seedlings have a much higher adaptability and survival rate then bringing in mature bulbs that have acclimatized to southern based growing conditions.
We have three adult children, a girl and two boys. We have three grandchildren, a boy and two girls. The youngest one is a great help, when she was two she helped me plant a bed of seedlings, I had to go get something when I got back all the seedling markers were removed and placed in a neat pile beside the seedlings bed. But she is still always there to help grandpa out when he is working in his gardens.
MORE ABOUT DARM
In 2007, the annual North American Lily Show was hosted by ARLS in Edmonton, AB. Darm travelled from his home far up north to attend, and showing a generous nature, promptly donated a few bulbs of his most promising hybrids to the NALS Silent Auction. The bulbs fetched a hefty price for the NALS research fund, most going directly to the Netherlands for future propagation and sales, I expect. At the same time, Darm informed me that he was giving Valley K aka Plantlilies.com exclusive rights to propagate and sell his lilies here in North America. What an honour! I was overwhelmed with calls and emails from that point until late that Fall from people around the world asking when we would have his lilies available. Unfortunately, it will be at least 2010 before we would have any ready and that depends heavily on weather and growing conditions.
UPDATE: Our propagation and evaluation was set back in 2008 after the lilies in question were stunted by severe hail. At the time, I thought perhaps they had escaped damage, but it was evident before too long that they had not. Thankfully our scales were not affected as they were on shelves protected from the storm completely. At time of writing this (January 2009) I am concerned about the scales though, as they were planted out in Fall 2008, but we've had a fairly harsh winter here in Central Alberta - most of December brought month long temps of -35 to -40 Celcius at night, barely warming up past -30 most days! Normally this would not concern me, but we had no snow cover to speak of either, and that could spell for big losses of immature bulbs, bulblets and freshly planted scales come spring time. Only time will tell!
UPDATE 2: Unfortunately the scales mentioned did indeed succumb to the first winter here in the ground. The bulbs were just fine, although it became quite evident that the hail storm of 2008 affected almost everything here in the ground to some extent in 2009. Unfortunately 2009 was also the year my child was diagnosed with Leukemia and I was unable to do any propagation of any lilies at all.
UPDATE 3: No where is the recovery of the lily gardens more evident than by looking through photos of our gardens where comparisons from year to year can be done. It was 2012 before the beds seemed to be as lush and full as they were prior to 2008. That is 4 years it took to recover! That is all the evidence I need to believe the textbooks which state just how much cutting a stem affects the bulb and how it needs the foliage above ground to store energy for the following year of growth.
UPDATE 4: They have recovered enough as of 2012 for me to have them tissue cultured. I hoped to do this in 2013-2014, and I did in fact through 2014 and again 2015 I sent more varieties in. 2014 produced nothing via tissue culture unfortunately. I'm learning that some varieties are very stubborn and cannot be forced to produce!
UPDATE 5: Unfortunately the tissue culture results were not impressive nor in great quantity, and the harsh spring and early summer conditions experienced here in 2016 finished them off completely after hail once again battered the farm repeatedly. They were wintered in my plant room from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016 when they were planted in the ground in holding beds.
Five bouts of hail prior to the end of June resulted in no foliage left AT ALL on all but one variety sent for culture (and that variety was not a Crook hybrid).
Before the end of the summer, I dug around expecting to find small bulblets still under the soil. Instead, I found absolutely nothing. I suspect the continued wet and cool weather which accompanied the hail was enough to rot them in the ground. How disappointing, not to mention a costly venture!
At this point, I cannot afford to have any more tissue cultured after spending thousands with no results. I will have to revert to normal scaling to increase stock. I'm beginning to wonder if I was actually meant to bring these hybrids to market! Unfortunately, over time some varieties have also been lost completely to voles, drought, hail. I'll have to update here again with which varieties those were one day soon.