The lily is a flower of contradictions. It represents both life and death, appearing at weddings and funerals. In their pure white form, lilies are a symbol of innocence, chastity, and purity of heart, but in contrast, the highly fragrant and intensely colored orange lilies symbolize passion. In Lily, Marcia Reiss explores these paradoxes, tracing the flower’s cultural significance in art, literature, religion, and popular entertainment throughout history. Reiss journeys from the tomb carvings of ancient Egypt to the paintings of Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Salvador Dalí, exploring the lily as a subject of fascination and obsession. Unearthing many absorbing facts and fables about the blossom, she examines its use in cuisine and reveals them to have been a source of food and medicine in China for centuries.
While Reiss focuses her attention on true lilies and the ornamental hybrids breeders have derived from them, she also provides extensive information about a wide variety of popular lilies, including daylilies, lilies of the valley, water lilies, and calla lilies. Filled with striking illustrations of these gorgeous plants, Lily is a book for gardeners and lily admirers alike.