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Calla Lilies

Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Two Calla Lilies” (Gandalf’s Gallery, Flickr).

Michael Pollan wrote, "A garden should make you feel you've entered privileged space-a place not just set apart but reverberant-and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry."

One plant that could put on a twist is the calla lily, as its pretty blooms do present with almost a twist in their shape. They are easier to grow than one might expect and prefer sunny to part sunny places in a garden and demand well-drained but moist soil.

In zones 3-8, their bulbs must be lifted and stored during the winter. These beauties bloom in June or July, and joy of joys, the deer do not seem to bother them.* They are native to South Africa.

The large white-flowered calla lily ‘Green Goddess' seems easier to grow than the hybrids that have spotted leaves and colored flowers. The funnel-shaped blooms can be yellow, orange or pink as well as the traditional white, with a central finger-shaped yellow spadix in the middle of the flower.

These plants are part of the arum genus, have leaves shaped like arrowheads, and can grow to 16 inches tall. Order some bulbs for delivery next spring. Calla bulbs make an original holiday gift for a gardening person, who has a fondness for their blooms, or likes something a little different in the garden.

* Of course one hesitates to say the deer dislike any plant. When they are hungry enough or too young to know better, they MAY eat anything!


K. Van Bourgondien and Sons advertise calla bulbs. The botanical name is Zantedeschia. ‘Captain Marrero' is a bi-color, ‘Apricot Lady' and ‘Garnet Glow' also sound as if they would be pretty, but I have personally never grown them.

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