I am very pleased to report that our hardiness trials over the winter of 2002 showed that the following interdivisional hybrids (Northern Star, Northern Beauty, Northern Carillon, Northern Sensation, Starburst Sensation, Easter Morn, Easter Dawn, Scheherazade , Leslie Woodriff, Catherine The Great, Creamy Belles, Fiery Belles, Ivory Belles, Silky Belles, Arabesque, and Silk Screen) mentioned in our previous article were hardy, with exception of Catherine The Great. I am most disappointed that Catherine didn't make it, despite spring planting and heavy mulch, as she was a particular favourite of mine. I will give up on Catherine now, and sell all remaining stock and remove her from our propagation schedule and catalog listing.
Worth noting is that the easterpet/orienpet Easter Morn was still in full, glorious bloom at the beginning of October 2002 when it froze hard enough to turn flowers and leaves to mush. I fully expected them NOT to emerge this spring due to this fact, but they came beautifully and even showed signs of increasing at the base of many stems. Now I intend to plant a very large stand of easterpets near my new veranda so I can enjoy the heavenly fragrance of these beauties every evening when they are in bloom, without fear of losing them to harsh winters!
In spring 2002 I had also planted about 50 Star Gazer bulbs at the base of a spruce tree in a relatively open spot to the north wind. They were planted 12 inches deep and watered when necessary through their first summer. They emerged from the ground rather late and were blooming by late September 2002. Spring of 2003 saw the majority of these bulbs sprout up and bloom by late August, despite the fact that they once again emerged very late (my fault, I didn't remove the mulch till end of May). Now to see if they will actually thrive and maybe even multiply in future years!
Truth be told, it is highly recommended to remove mulches in early spring, prior to stems sprouting so that they emerge on schedule (mulched ground unthaws slower than unmulched areas) and then you don't risk them freezing in fall before they get the chance to bloom. Because of my heavy work schedule in spring, it's near impossible for me to find the time to remove mulch from the gardens. We had a few late frosts this past spring, and damage was evident on flowers in every area except the mulched areas, which escaped damage as they sprouted up a full 2 weeks after the lilies in unmulched areas did. Despite late emergence, the orienpets, easterpets and asiapets planted in the ground all bloomed on schedule. Further trials will show whether they too can not only survive, but thrive here in our zone 3 gardens.
Another worthy point is in regards to size of planted bulbs and the relevance of size to hardiness. Now I know for sure that with many perennials, trees and shrubs that are borderline hardy in our area, better success is gained by planting smaller, immature specimens and allowing them to grow into their location, rather than plopping a fully or almost mature plant in the ground and expecting it to adapt without trouble. I am now wondering if the same might apply to lilies, as I planted a row of Northern Star bulblets (most no bigger than 1/4 inch across) in one garden, without any mulch applied. This particular spot is at the high end of a sloped north garden edge, thus it is usually quite exposed in winter as the snow is blown away. To my delight, every one of the bulblets sprouted and grew this spring! You can be sure I will be experimenting with this further in the future.
This fall (2003) a number of Dick Bazett's registered and unregistered orienpets, as well as his registered trumpet/asiatic cross Golden Surprise, was planted for evaluation (and subsequent propagation if hardiness trials prove successful). Despite my advice to only plant these varieties in spring on the prairies, I planted these in fall as this was the time Mr. Bazett had them available. They were planted deep (8-12 inches, depending on bulb size), and immediate snow after planting ensured a warm, 6 inch blanket of protection. I'll be sure to let you know how things turned out in spring 2004!