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“The snake fleeing away, The mountain is silent. This lily flower!”

By Shiki Masaoka (1869-1902) From “Haiku” by R. H. Blyth (Hokuseido Press)

The magnificent golden-rayed lily of Japan blooms through the warm summer nights, attracting moths with its heady fragrance. Its large white flowers are decorated with gold streaks and crimson spots, and it must be thrilling to see one by moonlight on a quiet mountainside. It is said that there is one flower for every year of the plant’s life, and sometimes there are so many that the plant can hardly stand. This wild lily caused a sensation when it arrived in Europe in 1862, and it has since given rise to some of the most outstanding hybrids enjoyed by gardeners around the world.