In a few days, Longwood Gardens’ East Conservatory and Exhibition Hall will transform into the largest lily display in North America! For the second consecutive year, Longwood is partnering with Holland bulb breeders to showcase some of the most amazing cut lilies that you will ever see. Lilytopia begins this Friday, May 20, but the planning began a year ago. World renowned designer, Dorien van den Berg, created a breathtaking design that showcases over 11,000 cut lilies and—new this year—1,500 calla lilies.
Watch Dorien in action on the The Martha Stewart Show, sharing ideas for arranging calla lilies at home (don’t miss the last 30 seconds of the clip when Martha gives Longwood Gardens a shout-out!).
Dorien turned her design for Longwood over to our carpenters and sheet metal workers, and these gifted artists spent countless hours creating the wooden platforms and metal structures that will showcase the lilies on display in the Conservatory. See a photo album of last year’s display.
The lilies—some of the newest cultivars in the world—were grown by a number of different Holland growers, and the process of shipping the flowers from the greenhouses in Holland to the display at Longwood Gardens is following a carefully planned schedule.
The lilies destined for the Lilytopia display were cut in the greenhouses on May 14 & 15, packaged in boxes, pre-inspected by the USDA, and then put on an airplane headed for the States. They will arrive at JFK airport on Monday, May 16, where they will first get checked by US Customs, and then put on a refrigerated truck headed to Longwood Gardens.
The 13,000 stems are scheduled to arrive at the Gardens early Tuesday morning, where a crew of Longwood employees and volunteers will be awaiting their arrival (caffeine in hand). The lilies will be removed from their packaging and a new cut will be made on each stem to keep the flowers fresh. Then the stems will be put into tubs of water according to cultivar. From this point, the lilies will be transported directly to the Conservatory or put into a cooler until they are ready to be used.
When the lilies are brought to the Conservatory, a large group of Longwood and Dutch florists will be ready to transform the lilies into a beautiful display.
In the East Conservatory, 17 massive, vase-like structures are being built in the flower beds to display lilies in a perfect form.
Around the Patio of Oranges, four “walls” of lilies will surround you with a mass of beautiful, fragrant blooms.
Several tall lily arches will make the perfect backdrop for photos, and some of the most interesting and unique cultivars will be showcased in individual glass vases.
This year, 12 towers of lilies, each nine feet tall, will be displayed on the Exhibition Hall floor in the Conservatory. These towers make a great addition to Lilytopia because they will allow you to walk right up to the lilies and take in the wonderful fragrance. For the photographers out there, the towers also provide a chance to get up close for stunning macro shots.
Around the Exhibition Hall, there will be even more individual vases of unusual lily cultivars so that you can deliberate with your family and friends about which are your favorites. And don’t miss the other addition to this year’s exhibit, a display of calla lilies that will greet you as you enter our new Green Wall corridor. Callas are one of my favorite flowers, so I am very excited to see the many different cultivars grown by the Holland breeders.
Lilytopia runs from May 20–30, 2011. Be sure to plan a visit during these 10 days so that you don’t miss seeing this amazing display. I promise that you will be amazed by the beauty and variety of these flowers. You will even be able to take a home a momento from Lilytopia when you visit our Special Events Pavilion. Bulb suppliers will have your favorite lily bulbs for sale so you can enjoy these beautiful flowers in your own garden.