Sunday, July 15, 2012


Planted last year, these alstroemeria blooms have been thriving in the front garden since early June.

A native of South America, the Peruvian lily, or Lily of the Incas, was named after the Swedish botanist who brought the seeds to Europe. According to Joy's Florist, these flowers symbolize friendship and devotion.

The first time I saw these flowers in a bouquet, I asked the flower seller what they were.

"Alstroemeria," she said.

"Exotic," I thought. "Probably semi-tropical."

I couldn't have been more wrong. The nursery woman explained that though Alstroemeria is called a "tender perennial," it thrives here in Zone 8, and can be grown in climates as cold as Zone 4.

Here on the warm southwest coast of British Columbia, we are lucky to be able to enjoy a much wider range of garden plants than most other parts of Canada. Even so, I seem to be magnetized by Zone 9 plants that are native to the Mediterranean and California.

These lilies make wonderful garden plants. Tough perennials in our climate, they multiply freely. As well as  blooming for weeks and weeks in the garden, they last for ages as cut flowers.

Many Peruvian lilies come in variegated pastels. My bright red one, above, is unusual and I love it.

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