Lily – Week 4

Oriental Lilies
Oriental Lilies (Photo by Michael Lant – Click on image to enlarge)

About the Lily

I was named Elizabeth after my paternal great grandmother, Elizabeth Speirs. I recently discovered that she was quite the gardener and lover of flowers and apparently had a very green thumb, especially when it came to Lilies and Dahlias. So green was her proverbial thumb and so impassioned was she by her Lilies, that Elizabeth earned the nickname Lily and it stuck for life. Now I know why I have always loved Lilies – it’s in my DNA.

I am certainly not alone with my love for Lilies. Based on a survey I did within my own network of about 50 of my closest female contacts, the Lily is the third most favourite flower after to the Peony and the Tulip. Next to the Rose, they are the most well-liked in the UK and are ranked as the fourth favourite flower in the world.

The word “Lily” comes from the Greek word “leiron” and symbolizes purity, virtue and chastity. In religious circles, this was the flower of the Resurrection and of the Virgin, and was thus used widely at Easter. Due to the association with the Virgin, the lily also became a symbol of martyrs and many saints. In ancient civilizations, it was believed that lilies were tokens of fertility and a pure life and so the flower was offered to the Gods to appease them. In China, the lily stands for “forever in love”.

There are 6 catergories to the genus of Lillium: Asiatic, Oriental, Longiflorum, Trumpet, Orienpet, Tiger. Asiatics have small blooms in a vast range of shades and colors. Longiflorums are distinguished by a subtle, sweet scent and big, funnel-shaped blossoms that display a multitude of colors and sizes. Orientals are large and fragrant, and in a smaller ranges of shades. The Orienpet flower is the largest in the lillium class and is available in a very wide range of colours. Trumpet flowers in full bloom appear trumpet like and are very fragrant. Tiger Lilies are the oldest and best known of the Lillium family and get their name from the many spots that appear on the bloom resembling spots on a tiger. The Stargazer – a cross between the Asiatic and Oriental lily, is a recent addition to the Lillium family.

Stargazer Lily

Stargazer Lilies (Photo: Michael Lant - Click on image to enlarge)

I have been particularly enamoured of the Stargazer lily since the days that my husband Michael was a professional photographer. He did a cover shoot for a recognized national magazine – a chic and beautiful image of a fully opened Stargazer lily on a marble slab. That striking photograph won recognition in the industry and a large photographic print of that image still hangs on our family room wall today almost 2 decades later.

The Stargazer first made its appearance in 1974. Dr. Leslie Woodriff, an American scientist, successfully crossed the Oriental Lily and Asiatic Lily. This new member of the Lillium family earned its name from Dr. Leslie’s observation that the flowers gazed towards the sky, rather than towards the earth like other lilies. This Lily was pleasing to the eye and the nose – a combination of the bright colours of the Asiatic lily and the wonderful fragrance of the Oriental lily. The Stargazer quickly became one of the most popular and celebrated of cut flowers. They symbolize wealth, prosperity and romance.


I have chosen the Stargazer for this week’s recipe simply because of my bias. However any Oriental lily will also work. The Asiatic lily has a thick stem so it is not a good choice for this arrangement. Be sure each flower is at least 50% open. The first flower that you use should be fully open.


  • Rustic container
  • Oasis
  • Floral tape
  • 5 – 6 stems of Lilies with 5 – 6 blooms per stem


  1. Cut oasis to fit into container so it extends about 2” above the opening. Secure with floral tape. If the container isn’t watertight, line with plastic.
  2. Remove the stamen ends. They tend to stain anything they come in contact with, including the flower petals, fingers, clothes and furniture.
  3. Cut lilies leaving about 3” of stem. Remove leaves unless they are very close to the flower.
  4. Starting with the lily on the straightest stem, insert into the centre top of the oasis. Push stem into oasis until the flower head is almost touching the oasis. Working in concentric circles, fill in the oasis. Reserve the lilies on the most curved stems for the bottom row, which rings the edge of the container. Your finished arrangement should be in the shape of a dome.
  5. Cut a few leaves from the leftover stems, leaving about 2” of stem below each leaf. Insert along the bottom edge in between a few of the flowers.
  6. Top up the container with water and remember to water daily.

Note: You may be wondering why there has been no mention of the Calla Lily. The Calla Lily is in fact not a lily at all, but is the common name for a genus called Zantedeschia. I will present the Calla Lily in a future post.

Weekly Quote: There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

Next week: Gladiolas

Also next week: A fun post about a recent event

As always, I look forward to your comments


This entry was posted in Floral Arrangement, July and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Patty
    Posted July 30, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Liz, your blog is beautiful in concept, design and execution and I agree that the personal stories add a special charm. It’s a very welcome weekly gift to receive.

  2. Posted July 28, 2010 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Great story, I love the personal connection!

  3. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Beautiful and elegantly composed, Liz! Well researched & a welcome respite to our busy days.

  4. Ashley
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Wow Liz! what an amazing blog. I am so impressed :)

  5. chrisitna
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink