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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Spectacular new hybrid lily

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 May 2008 at 01:09 PM

I've been writing up some of the plants that are new at Chelsea this year for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show website; you can check them out here. One that especially impressed me was a new lily called 'Kushi Maya' which is an exclusive to H. W. Hyde and Son (though it's not yet on their website). OK, there are plenty of new lilies every year so what's so special about this one?

Well, firstly, it's a hybrid between Lilium nepalense and an Oriental Hybrid lily, types which are so distantly related to each other that they don't usually hybridise at all.

Secondly, just take a look - click on the picture to enlarge it and you'll see. The huge flowers are white at the edges of each petal, shading to hazy green and with a darker green streak through the centre of each. Then the centre is bloodied in deep crimson and the anthers are chocolate brown. Isn't it gorgeous? And on top of all that it has a wonderful fragrance.

So how did this hybrid come about? Richard Hyde, the current Hyde who's running the company which was established in 1926, told me: "'Kushi Maya' is the result of cutting edge embryo recovery techniques. Firstly, a flower of L. nepalense was pollinated with pollen from an Oriental Hybrid flower, a specially selected, but unnamed, seedling. Quite straightforward this, but what happened next is the clever bit.

"After about 40 days, long before it was fully ripe, the seed pod was harvested and taken to a laboratory. Here, two tiny embryos were removed from the endosperm and placed in sterile test tubes filled with a special growing medium where they grew into young plants. Without being recovered like this they would have aborted, due to the huge genetic differences between the two parents. Even using this technique, very wide hybrids like 'Kushi Maya' are both very difficult and hugely expensive to obtain."

My question, of course, is this: if one embryo grew to be the lovely 'Kushi Maya' - what happened to the other one?!

Anyway, it's a lovely plant. But what about that name? "Kushi Maya," Richard told me, "is a name given to female Nepalese children, it's English translation is Happy Love." Gardeners, says your reporter cornily, will be happy to love this new lily.

The RHS Chelsea website has my write-ups of this year's Chelsea newcomers.

Start here for full RHS coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show.



sue1002 said:

That lily is beautiful, we visited Chelsea last year and I can still remember the wonderful smell of H W Hyde and Son's display that filled the air.  We purchased some bulbs of the heavily scented 'Muscadet' and 'Tiger Woods' which should very soon be coming into flower.

on 20 May 2008 at 02:44 PM

Graham Rice said:

Yes, the scent of lilies - especially in an enclosed space like the Chelsea pavilion - is marvellous. And HW Hyde won a Gold Medal at this year's show.

on 20 May 2008 at 07:07 PM

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on 25 May 2008 at 08:43 AM