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Where the martagon lilies grow

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Bloomington Briefing Published September 1, 2021
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Years of labor and love transformed a shady suburban lawn into a floral landscape with an impressive collection of martagon lilies. At first glance, it’s hard to take in what’s growing in the garden beds which stretch all the way down to a hidden pond.

Cascades of different flowers create a pattern of living color, but it’s the inverted teacup-shaped lilies that stand out while they bloom in late spring to early summer. Picture a French impressionist painting adorned with martagon lilies. Dozens of named and unnamed varieties almost blind the eye with their radiant hues. Martagon lilies are profuse bloomers producing anywhere from 10 to 20 blooms on stems which grow up to six feet tall. The bedazzling flower show has garnered attention from gardeners across the globe.   

Through a method of horticultural reproduction called “hybridizing,” new lilies emerge, including Fallen Angel and Sassy Sandy, which were registered with the Royal Historical Society and accepted as new martagon varieties. With martagon lilies taking an average of seven years to mature, growing them takes patience. From April through October, it’s a big job, weeding, watering, trimming, staking and fencing. The latter chore is one of the most challenging—to keep out flower-eating rabbits and deer. Other more welcome visitors come to the gardens and pond, including hummingbirds, bald eagles, foxes, minks, otters, beavers, kingfishers and wood ducks. The flower beds make a heavenly haven for wildlife.

The man behind all of this lily pageantry is as modest as his flowers are showy. To Frans Officer and his wife, Sandy, it’s just a hobby that grew and grew. They want the flowers to be the story. And what a beautiful tale their martagon lilies tell.

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