My most recent flower adventure was preparing and presenting a Zoom program for NALS, the North American Lily Society. From the very beginning, thinking about the vast varieties of lilies and what designs to show them off was a totally absorbing experience.  Since my garden does not currently grow lilies, I went to the Dutch website of Delaware Valley Wholesale Florist and found an amazing array of exotic lilies. You can be sure that next year my garden will have some of these wonderful flowers!!

Lilies have been cultivated for over 3,000 years and used throughout time for celebrations.  In the Renaissance a single white lily was a symbol of both chastity and fertility while in China they are used in weddings and represent eternal love.


Asiatic or Asian Lilies: smaller blooms, less fragrance

Martagon Hybrids: Turk’s cap shaped bloom (tiger lily)

Candidum Hybrid: Easter lily

American Hybrid: taller “tree”

Longiflorum Lilies: outward bloom at right angle on stem

Trumpet Lilies: trumpet shaped flowers

Oriental Lilies: most recognized, fragrant, showy blossom

Other: Double Oriental is new variety

,For my program designs, I wanted to focus on using several different classifications and on which variety would show best in different design styles.   At Longwood Gardens in our Continuing Education classes we teach that in a design flowers are most often used as line, mass, filler, or focal flowers. The expressive lily is most always a focal flower which means it is the star capturing the eye first.

The LA lily is a cross between an Asiatic lily and a Trumpet lily and the most available variety. In a floral design it is the focal flower or “star” bringing the eye and attention to the design. This is a Sogetsu lesson by Soho Sakai using fruits and vegetables with yellow focal lilies.

“Sunny Morning,” a martagon or Turk’s cap lily inspired a garden style mass design using white and yellow flowers in a white vase. Line flowers were white snapdragons, mass flowers were “County Sun” roses and white hydrangeas. Yellow asclepias and shimmery nandina were used as filler flowers. For the “star” focal flowers a double white “Snowboard” oriental lily and the feathery “Sunny Morning” martagon lily gave the arrangement elegance and horticultural interest.

Foxglove ‘Pink Illumination’

Hydrangea ‘Magical Coral’

Rose ‘Peach Campanella’

Astillbe, pink

Chocolate lace flower

Scabiosa ‘Purple Monster’

Lepidium ‘Green Dragon’

Oriental lily ‘Pico’


The NALS is sponsoring a flower show and one of the classes is “Monet’s Garden—An interpretive design.”  An array of soft blue, pink ,and peach flowers each with a mottled texture evokes the impressionistic feeling of Monet’s Garden and oriental lily ‘Pico’ stars as a focal flower. The mechanic for the design is folded chicken wire in the vase which is lined with plastic since the vase is metal.

Delphinium ‘Blue Jay’

Rose ‘Breathless’

Hydrangea ‘Magical Coral’

Martagon lily ‘Sunny Morning’

Mini aster, purple

Thistle ‘Blue Lagoon’


European ginger

Viburnum berry

Lepidium ‘Green Dragon’




Another interpretation of Monet’s garden used a low container with a parallel design.  Colors of blue, pink, and yellow are vertical stems with foliage and low flowers creating wave like interest at the base. Two stems of fresh willow frame the design.

LA lily ‘Orange Brunello’

Asclepias, orange

Ornamental grass

A more contemporary interpretation uses a blue triangle shaped vase and curving wool forms to interpret the feeling of the garden’s water feature. Contrasting orange lilies and asclepias are enhanced with ornamental grasses as the wool form spirals upward.

One of the best ways to show off an elegant lily blossom is to use is to use it with branches.  Here the voluptuous double ‘Roselily’ stars with a single ivy vine branch and one strand of cascading ivy.  The branch is held in place in the vase with bamboo skewers carefully drilled into the stem.

Another branch design uses a single stem of oriental lily ‘Nymph’ which is shown off with two branches nailed together to create a curvilinear line.  An unidentified vine adds movement without taking attention away from the dramatic bloom.

Two straight stems of river cane are banded with wool and provide a vertical contrast with the right-angled flower heads of the longiflorum lily. Two monstera leaves reiterate the right angled flower heads and black and white Yin-Yang pompon mums continue the achromatic (black and white) color palate.

Oriental lily ‘Helvetia’

Allium, white

Allium, wavy

Jasmine vine

In the NALS flower show schedule is a “Reflective Design.”  This interpretation uses a shiny metal vase with a column made of silver Oasis floral mesh circled by midollino spirals wrapped with silver bullion wire.  Water sources for flowers are both sand in the vase which also supports the structure and tubes held onto the wire form with silver bind wire for shorter stems.  The close-up picture shows the transparency of  the structure where flowers are visible from all sides and through the design.

A streamlined approach to the reflective design is a structure made from lucite rods held together with white zip ties in a clear glass vase.  Some of the rods are bent into angles with a heat gun. An achromatic color (black and white) is achieved with one white oriental ‘Snowboard’ lily and an alocasia leaf. The only additional flowers are three scabiosa ‘Purple Monster Scoop’ stems which are almost black in color.

Martagon lily ‘Sunny Morning’

Lisianthus, purple

Mini aster,purple

Veronica, purple

Thistle ‘Blue Lagoon’

Ornamental grass

Jasmine vine

Another design in the NALS flower show schedule is a “Synergistic Design” which uses three or more vases which need to be connected.  Here a piece of handmade paper delineates the space for the design which uses two low vases and three taller vases.   All the vases hold vine like mechanics made from 12g aluminum wire wrapped with green stem tape. The wire forms help to support taller stems and also add movement with their spiraling lines.   This was an excellent way to show off the elegant martagon lily ‘Sunny Morning’ with contrasting stems of purples and greens.  The close up shows a tube wrapped in the paper covered wire holding a partial stem of ‘Sunny Morning’ as a special design detail. 

Whew! This was a busy day.  I have shared with you most all of the designs done for this very fun program. A question was do I get inspiration from the flower or from the design style.  These diverse, elegant, and exotic lily blooms were the inspiration in all cases.  I am ordering some martagon ‘Turk’s Cap’ for planting this fall and will be eager to see them bloom next summer.

Happy July—a perfect time to enjoy beautiful lilies!