THE MYSTERIOUS SCENT OF CASABLANCA LILIES
Potted Casablanca lilies in their second year.
Close-up of Casablanca lily.
Cobalt blue Fukagawa porcelain vase decorated with white lily.
"Phenolics," says my scientist friend, backing away from my Casablanca lilies as if from the devil himself. " Being illiterate in science, I have no idea of what he means. A quick look at the google database provides me with incomprehensible answers such as, "Lily PPO possessed a diphenolase activity toward catechol, catechin and gallic acid; catechin was the best substrate for the enzyme considering the V
max/K m ratio. " So I begin my fruitless quest for a description of the intoxicating scent of one the most beautiful flowers in my garden. My nose decodes it as a spoicy smell with a predominant note of cinnamon. I am no expert. I could ask Chandler Burr, my learned occasional correspondent who has authored books on scents, but it would be an imposition considering that he recently answered my questions about the scent of azaleas mentioned in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca . By the way, the answer is, azaleas are scentless.
Form, color, substance and a fierce determination to are good enough reasons for planting Casablanca lilies. Mine are crammed into a faux terracotta pot--the real thing wicks out water too quickly--set at the foot of the truly enormous climbing Noisette rose Claire Jacquier. Therefore its feet are in shade while its top is up in the air, which supposedly is a good way for lilies to live. The only difference I see in its development, is that it only grows up to a foot or so. The flowers, three to a stem, are spectacular. I woulds grow fields of these bulbs if budget and voles would allow. At one point, I planted fifty of them in the rose border and now only one remains. That is when I planted a couple of bulbs into the plastic pot. This is their second year and I intend to pot a few more this coming autumn.