A glorious display of the giant Himalayan lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum, can be seen now in the dappled shade of the Woodland Garden at Kew.
The glistening white trumpets of the giant Himalayan lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum) are held in a loose cluster at the top of leafy stems that can reach over two metres tall. The lily grows wild in the Himalayan Mountains at altitudes up to 3600 metres. At Kew it can be seen in the shady Woodland Garden, at grid reference M8 on our handy garden map (pdf).
Cardiocrinum giganteum in the Woodland Garden (Photo: Richard Wilford)
Growing from a huge bulb, Cardiocrinum giganteum can take 7 years or more to reach flowering size from seed. The main bulb then dies but small bulb offsets are produced and can be separated and replanted for flowers in years to come. It is well worth the long wait to see these amazing blooms.
The white trumpets of the giant Himalayan lily (Photo: Richard Wilford)
The bulbs of these mighty plants are scattered through the Woodland Garden and at the moment there is a particularly good display of flowering sized plants. Some of the smaller specimens that have only grown wide, glossy green leaves will flower in the next year or two.
Cardiocrinum giganteum is scattered throughout the Woodland Garden (Photo: Richard Wilford)
If you want to read more about how to propagate this plant, read a previous post, Dramatic display of giant Himalayan lily seedheads, written in the autumn when the seed heads make another eye-catching display.
But right now, come to Kew and enjoy these wonderful flowers in their glory!
- Richard -
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Several people contribute to the Alpine and Rock Garden Team blog. Richard Wilford is the Collections Manager in the Hardy Display Section at Kew. His responsibilities include all the areas where alpines are grown at Kew Gardens. The three team leaders, Joanne Everson, Graham Walters and Katie Price, each have their own particular parts of the Gardens to look after. Between them, these four experts have over 55 years experience of growing alpines.
Alpines at Kew Gardens are not only grown to create colourful and informative displays, they also play an important role in the research Kew carries out around plant naming, classification, biodiversity and conservation.
Mountains are found on every continent and each range has its own unique alpine flora, but these plants are under threat from climate change. As temperatures rise, alpines are forced higher and will eventually have nowhere to go. The alpine collections at Kew are studied to help us all understand the mountain flora better and make informed decisions about protecting its future.
"Probably the most beautiful glasshouse in the world is the Davies Alpine House at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew", John Hoyland, Gardens Illustrated, April 2011
Richard Wilford has written a book on alpines, 'Alpines from Mountain to Garden', published by Kew Publishing. You can buy it in the Kew shops or from Kewbooks.com.
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