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Experience Lilytopia at Longwood Gardens

May 19, 2010
A wall of lilies on display in the Conservatory









At its core, Lilytopia is an exciting flower exhibition featuring more than 10,000 cut flowers and potted lilies on display in the East Conservatory and selected areas throughout the Gardens. The show designer is Dorien van den Berg, one of Holland’s most creative floral designers and designer of the Keukenhof’s famous annual “Lily Show.” Her design uses the amazing space of the East Conservatory to its fullest.  Towering columns of lily “tree forms,” lily walls, and enormous vases filled with flowers, are arranged to celebrate the beauty of Lilies.  Dorien visited Longwood Gardens several times before designing the show.  The result will be breathtaking and nothing short of astonishing.  In preparation for the show, Dorien included a special trip to Italy to select glasswork and pottery. Craftsmen manufactured the display metal work, each element carefully selected for its beauty and ability to highlight the splendor of the flowers.  The materials and lily cultivars were carefully selected to complement a design that balances color, texture and fragrance to transform the Conservatory into a true Lilytopia.  


Gardeners installing a "Lily Tree" in the East Conservatory









Recent hybridizing efforts have truly created a new golden age of lilies, with a wide assortment of cultivars boasting attributes such as new colors and patterns, double-flowered blooms, refined and pleasing fragrance, and scentless and even pollenless cultivars.  There are cultivars to please even the most sophisticated taste.  The blooms occupy center stage; however, the concept is comprehensive, including educational, professional, arts and entertainment, and cultural components.  The idea is also holistic, showing the newest lily hybrids arranged in floral designs that fuse the American zeitgeist with global trends, creating an experience that transcends both.  The result should inspire both consumers and professionals.  


Lily arrangements being prepared for the display









At this point, the plan is completed and implementation of the show is well under way! We are using an estimated 50,000 stems of display-grade lilies.  Display-grade lilies are the highest quality grade flowers—a grade rarely seen outside of the Netherlands.  These flowers are grown every year for the Keukenhof “Lily Show” and starting this year the tradition includes Longwood Garden’s Lilytopia.  Lilies slated for a show need to be harvested at just the right time.  Certainly lilies can be stored in refrigerated coolers, however longevity of the cut flower may be reduced.  Therefore we are planning on installing lilies that were harvested just hours before in Holland.  An extensive logistical network of breeding houses, warehouse and shipping facilities, airports, export agents, import and shipping companies, government agencies, and trucking companies have been lined up to ensure a safe and speedy transportation of the flowers.  Due to timing issues in Holland, some cultivars intended to go to the Keukenhof show will not bloom in time.  But they will be ready for Lilytopia, making our show, in its inception year, one of the most comprehensive lily shows in the world.  We are pleased to work with our Dutch partners to present visitors with extraordinary flowers right here in the USA.  We are also pleased to be working together with the Keukenhof to present North American growers and lily lovers with the largest living catalog of the best cultivars available anywhere. In addition, during Lilytopia select flowers and bulbs may be purchased directly from our Dutch partner, so guests can grow spectacular lilies in their home gardens. The Lilytopia display will be on view for the public May 21 through 31, 2010.  

 The East Conservatory is currently being transformed into a "Lilytopia," opening May 21.