By Dave Stith

Special to the Town Crier

Editor’s note: Lemon Lily specialist Dave Stith, a volunteer botanist, submitted this story regarding the efforts in restoring native Lemon Lilies.

First, the planners of the Lemon Lily Festival, including Park Interpreter Amanda Allen and the Friends of the San Jacinto Mountain County Parks, decided to move the date of the festival up to the end of June in an attempt to have lilies in bloom at the Nature Center during the event. This turned out to be a wise decision as there were lilies blooming both in the restoration enclosure and in Lilly Creek. Attendees could see potted lilies up close and smell their sweet fragrance, and then see them growing in their natural habitat in the creek.

Much progress has been made in getting the potted lilies to thrive and bloom. Tips from Kathy Bates-Lande and Jackie Lasater, as well as the technique learned

Lemon Lilies blooming at the Idyllwild Nature Center this year.
Photo courtesy David Stith

from the Theodore Payne Foundation by Kate Kramer, are paying off. See the attached photos.

Some of the lilies transplanted into Lilly Creek flourished and bloomed while others did not. We still need to learn why some thrive after being transplanted and others do not. Perhaps the high-flow volume in the creek last winter unearthed and washed away some of the newly planted bulbs.

There also were some lilies blooming in areas where lilies were not planted. In past years, I have identified these as natives that occurred there before the restoration efforts. As more lilies are introduced into the creek, it will become difficult to differentiate future ge nerations as the progeny of the native plants or the transplanted ones.

One lily blooming upstream from the restoration plots is in an area where I sowed some seeds in 2012. Here is what I wrote in the Spring 2014 Progress Report:

“In the Autumn of 2012 I had some surplus Lemon lily seeds, so I planted them along Lilly creek upstream from the sites where we planted the bulbs. Without too much difficulty we found a few little Lemon lily seedlings that are the result of that effort. We only covered a short distance in the search, so there could be many more farther upstream.

“They are only just barely big enough to be visible, but Jyoti [Kintz, former park interpreter] is getting pretty good at spotting them. We will continue to monitor them while trying not to disturb them”.

It is impossible to say whether this lily is the result of my actions or descended from other native lilies in the park or upstream on the [Pine Cove Water District] property. However, the planted seedlings would be four years old this year, so the timing for them to start blooming would be just about right.

Since sowing seeds is the easiest and most cost-effective method of restoration and there should be an abundance of seeds from the potted lilies in the restoration enclosure, I am recommending that a couple of areas on the creek be reserved for sowing seeds and monitoring their progress. No doubt those seeds will be at the mercy of the stream current, but if more lilies begin to be spotted in the general area or downstream, it will be a positive sign.

Restoration efforts continue to pay off in Lilly Creek, thanks to the undertakings of the many people who have volunteered their time and labor since the inception of the Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival and Restoration Project in October 2009. With the ongoing dedication and perseverance of those currently endeavoring to fulfill the mission, along with the help of others who may have yet to become involved, progress can and will continue to be made.