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Denver Foxtail Lily Gardens....


Each year that passes Denver Botanic Gardens seems to boast more and more Eremurus. Visitors are riveted with the display. It feels as though there are foxtail lilies everywhere, around every corner.   I can recall when I obtained E. himalaicus in the 1980s...it was the first foxtail lily we planted and its progeny still thrive throughout the Rock Alpine Garden and beyond.

Above you can see the Himalayan foxtail lily has prospered on the east end of the O'Fallon Perennial Walk.  The picture was taken just a week or so ago. This week decorative, bubble-like seedheads are forming--very intriguing in their own right.

Across the way is a magnificent planting of the largest cultivated Eremurus.  Mike Bone and I saw E. robustus in Kazakhstan and obtained a pinch of seed. It will be interesting to see how it compares with what's growing in cultivation.

One of our most stunning gardens right now is the Ornamental Grasses Garden, which Ross Shrigley filled with these incredible giant hybrids, most with pale pink or apricot shades of color.

Even on the parking structure there are masses of bronzy hybrids, and the common yellow Eremurus stenophyllus is found here and there throughout the garden. Mike Bone and I brought back another eight taxa, some quite distinct from what is in cultivation. I am especially anxious to see what E. regellii will do, with its striped chocolate and snow white stars. The enthusiasm with which Eremurus grow in Colorado is great evidence of how similar the climate in Central Asia is to Colorado.

If you seek some of these out for your own garden, you too can bring some of the majesty of the Eurasian steppes to your home!



How much water do they need? Can you plant it in a xeric garden because they die back before the heat of summer in Colorado, or do they need some supplemental watering?
Panayoti Kelaidis

Very interesting question....in their native range, they are quite xeric. I suspect that one day we will have some of the more xeric species cultivated. I have planted them in my unwatered gardens, and frankly, they do poorly. In a super wet spring they bloom, but other years its just leaves. I have a suspicion the "xericity" (to coin a word) has been plum bred out of them after decades of cultivation in Western Europe and suchlike climates, perhaps. Every species at DBG grows in gardens that get some irrigation: the Perennial Border especially is regularly watered. So the answer is I think the cultivated sorts need supplemental irrigation in Colorado to perform optimally. That said, I saw nearly ten kinds in Central Asia growing in the driest spots imaginable: there is a lot more that must be learned...don't you think?
Panayoti Kelaidis

Most bulb catalogs offer Eremurus: I recommend Brent and Becky's especially for quality bulbs.
Tom Schantz

I live in PA, zone 6A. I just saw yellow foxtail lilies growing on The High Line in NYC. What are some reputable sources of bulbs? Thanks.

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