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Lilies

Posted: Tuesday 5 November 2013
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Lilies are one of the few plants that almost everyone can name: maybe not the exact variety, but the bold trumpet-shaped flowers are instantly recognisable from parties, florists and funerals.


Lillies are one of the few plants that almost everyone can name: maybe not the exact variety, but the bold trumpet-shaped flowers are instantly recognisable from parties, florists and funerals. Many lillies are among the most powerfully scented plants that we can grow in our gardens. Then there's the visual variety, from big, showy and white, to stripey pink and curly orange.

I will be terribly disciplined and keep my list to as few as possible.

Lilium regale Album - really, really, really smelly. About a metre high with vast white trumpets. Its only snag is that if you get too close in order to sniff them you are likely to be covered in pollen! Reddy brown reverse to flowers.

Lilium martagon - much smaller flowers. Good in borders, if given full sun or a bit of shade. Native to Europe - in particular, Swiss mountain meadows: the sort of thing across which Julie Andrews cavorted in The Sound of Music. Also in white.

Lilium auratum - must have lime-free soil so, as a general rule, only grow them if you have thriving rhododendrons. If not, and you must have them, then a pot filled with ericaceous compost should do the trick. Pale yellow veins to spotted petals.

Lilium candidum -  as seen in endless medieval paintings and various stained glass windows, as it symbolises the Madonna. Each stem carries about a dozen downward hanging flowers.

Lilium Henryi - flowers later than many. Striking orange flower speckled with black. Grows to about 1.5m high.

My final example is the image above: not a flower, but can be found wherever lilies gather. Lilioceris lilii is the bright scarlet pest that can make short work of your prized plant. The larvae have charming habits: they cover themselves with their own excrement to deter birds from eating them. Inspect plants regularly and squish any such pests that you find.

If you want any of these lovely flowers in your garden next year, plant them now.




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