Sunday, July 16, 2006

I can smell them from here

This is the time when my gardening obsession becomes distressingly clear. Any bed on the GWI property with at least 4 hours of sun exposure is now dominated by towering, lanky, awkward lily stalks, each topped by podlike incubi and/or huge, waxy, intoxicatingly scented blooms.

I realized that gardeners in our zone could grow lilium, particularly oriental lilium, during my first Garden Walk, which I experienced as a walker, not a grower. I decided immediately that these were the flowers I had to have. It was their scent that sealed the deal. At first, I bought a lot of stargazers, as these were the commonly available variety, but soon discovered all the other types. Now I have the range: henryi, speciosum rubrum, trumpets, martagons, orienpets. I have a few Asiatics, but they don't have a scent and they really want more sun than I can give them,

Now, lilies do not cooperate terrifically well in a perennial bed situation, although as far as culture goes, they couldn’t be easier to grow. Most of the interesting varieties do get quite tall and the blooms are big and heavy—hence, the result that almost every stake in my arsenal is now in use. And then you have to disguise the rather uninteresting stalks somehow. Nothing quite works, though rose bushes might be the best answer.

But I insist that the rewards are worth it. Upon our return from Italy, we opened the back door and were nearly bowled over the fragrance.

Here is a case where the fact that my camera doesn’t do close-ups well is just fine. I don’t think overly intimate views of lilies are preferable. These are Golden Splendor trumpets and Orienpet Silk Road.


r sorrell said...

Beautiful. I wish lilies would grow where I live.

mmw said...

My lilies certainly look a lot better than my roses.

This probably wouldn't work on the east coast, but I have a couple sweet peas climbing the stakes in my lily patch. It gives you something to look at besides the leaf drop.

Anonymous said...

The deer eat the stalks in early spring. It is very disappointing, but I saved some by spraying them with deer repellent.

George Africa said...

Hi Elizabeth; I'm happy to see your interest in lilies and other folks responses. We've grown lilies since the early 80's but in recent years the challenges have increased. Between the deer, chipmunks, woodchucks and lily leaf beetle, lily growers have to show their real stuff to continue. Dormant oil spray and TreeGuard are two things we use to slow down the competitors. Regardless, everyone has to agree that the fragrance and beauty of clumps of Oriental lilies can't easily be replaced.

George Africa

EAL said...

Thanks for your comment, George. In a city garden, deer and chipmunks are a rare problem.