The Lily Group was founded in 1931 as a Standing Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society. The first Lily Year Book was published in 1932; interest was such that membership was opened to members of the RHS in 1933. The first Lily Conference was also held in that year.
Trials were carried out at Wisley, visits to gardens organised, scientific research undertaken and the Year Book published nearly every year except 1941-45. In 1939, the Reverend Professor E.S. Lyttel presented a silver cup “to be awarded annually on the recommendation of the Lily Committee to someone who has done good work on behalf of Lilies, Nomocharis or Fritillaries”. This award is still made every year, although the cup presented is no longer the original one.
The late 70’s saw the establishment of the Seed Exchange, now one of the main activities of the Lily Group. In the early 80’s the Year Book was replaced with the biennial ‘Lilies and Related Plants’.
The position of the Lily Group in relation to the Royal Horticultural Society has changed over time: we are no longer a committee of the RHS, but are responsible for our own administration and finances. However, we work closely with the Society, representatives of the Group taking an active role on the Bulb Committee and in organizing lily trials.
A complete set of Year Books and Lilies and Related Plants 1932-2014 is available on a DVD – please see the ‘Publications’ section of this website for details.
Based on Brent Elliott’s article ‘A Brief History of the RHS Lily Committee’ in ‘Lilies and Related Plants’ 2007-8.