Turkscap lilies

Posted: Wednesday 11 April 2012
by Andy Sturgeon

The ritual of picking off red lily beetles [...] has begun, and I will soon be discovering flower stems snapped by footballs and dogs.

Leaves of Lilium martagon

At Chelsea I get to indulge in my fantasies which, when it comes to gardening, never seem to be too far fetched, and yet are hard to realise in the real world. I’m talking specifically about Lilium martagon, that wonderful, diminutive turkscap lily, with pinky purple spotted petals, that curl back on themselves. I can’t grow it in my own garden and it single-handedly manages to make me feel like an utterly hopeless gardener. But of course I persist, because one day I imagine my plants will flower, even after seven years with hardly any foliage and without a single bloom.

The ritual of picking off red lily beetles (and squishing them between my fingers, which I hate) has begun, and I will soon be discovering flower stems snapped by footballs and dogs. It’s disheartening at times this gardening business, isn’t it?

So, when I found over a hundred pots of these little plants growing in the nursery the other day, I had to have them. It’s what is known in Chelsea parlance as ‘panic buying’. In my defence, Lilium martagon happens to make an excellent link to the Arts and Crafts concept of the garden, as it’s a motif that was frequently used. And yesterday I was sent a martagon-emblazoned Morris and Co. wallpaper print, which I took as a good omen.

In truth, as the show gets closer and worryingly closer, I am starting to get a clearer idea of how the planting will look in detail. This process is helped enormously by the fact that things are growing and you can see them, or at least the foliage, which really helps.

These lilies may not have been on the original list and they are technically June-flowering, but they are the perfect fit with the rest of the scheme. They even run the risk of being the crowd-pleaser. In each garden there is always one plant that every visitor asks about, and as long as Lilium martagon has some flowers, this could be the one. I, of course, will pretend that I always intended to use it. Ssshh!

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www.alittlesliceofeden.blogspot.com 12/04/2012 at 21:23

Is there any sign that the Lily beetles are finding their way to the lillies by smell? I wondered if it might be worth-while crushing up something that smells a bit bad and spraying them with that - Garlic or Euphorbia perhaps, but I'm not sure what the consequences would be more widely. For the moment I'm just going to plant garlic close by and see if that helps. What do you think?

kaycurtis 15/04/2012 at 04:45

What a lot of people don't know about Lily beatles is when you try to pick them off the plant they very cleverly drop onto their backs so that the red is hidden in the earth but there is a plan, a sheet of white paper placed below the plant so that if they think they've got away, they haven't they are shown up by the white background, don't you just love out smarting the little blighters.

granma 06/05/2013 at 14:22

Right this is what I do! I havent read  the rest yet,but maybe others do this too .

I treated myself to some carniverus plants from      "   jersy direct  "  they were not cheap but they were a decent size and ready for  feeding . Only thing you need to do is keep the plant pot in about 1 inch of rain water  and they must not dry out. I bought the indoor ones but you can get them for outdoor and they ARE supposed to stand below zero conditions. 

I use a see through wide topped plastic bottle with a cap,I put the bottle underneath and knock them into it . You have to be quick cos the bliters fly . AND THAT MY FRIENDS  ,  .................IS LUNCH FOR MY PLANTS !  wait until you have a good number. It doesnt take long .

I'm so cruel ! but after you have put in about 10 at once into the same funnel you can actualy hear them squealing !!!    AND this is where someone might put me in the loony Bin - I stand there saying to my plant  " enjoy your lunch cos these lovely orange beatles have eaten there last meal ......"

so the lesson in this is........ the beatles have eaten my plants so in return my plants have eaten the beatles - afterall ......alls fair in love and war !!!!!!!!!!! 

 I ask you my friends  Am  I going loopy or what ?


granma 06/05/2013 at 14:28

PS. Just read the top letter about smell  it may work but this one didnt which I tried for the same reason .,  . I planted  from Arum lilies  family "Dracunculus " - These stink and I mean stink  so dont try it . It made no differance whatsoever. Might give the garlic a go though -will try anything once in the aid of gardening.

pash 08/05/2013 at 03:58