Thursday, August 4, 2011

My apologies to the genus Lilium

Last year I discovered Ditch Lilies (Hemerocallis fulva) growing in my yard and I took it upon myself to tell the world how I disdained all lilies.  This year I would like to apologize.  I thought my complaints against Lilies were legitimate.
  • I don't like the shape and size of lilies.  They're all flower and no leaves.  I feel like I need to 'hide' them behind other plants so they don't look so awkward.
  • They stink.  The smell from an Oriental Lily makes me physically nauseous.  
  • The colours appear artificial to me.  Lilies are a very hybridized plant and the colour combinations seem overly done up to me.  I like a little less make up on my girls.
But here's the kicker.  I'm terribly fickle.  Show me a pretty face and I'll change my mind in a heartbeat.

When I made a plant order earlier in the spring I was looking for deep red flowers and what did I find but Martagon Lilies.  Stunning deep red and 50% off so I took a chance and ordered three bulbs.  They did not disapoint.

These lovely little red beauties captured my heart and I actually cursed myself for not buying more.  But this is a trial with a new plant so I did not want to buy too many.  I know that voles really like Lily bulbs so wire baskets had to be constructed for the bulbs to live in.  If they survive through the winter I can think about purchasing more next year.

Lily baskets were made with hardware cloth and wire snips
When I received the mail order there was a mistake with processing and as an apology the company sent me some free plants.  A bag full of Asiatic Lily bulbs!  I shook my head in disbelief.  Of all the plants to send me, Lilies!!  I don't even like Lilies!  Yet more baskets had to be constructed.  

Jody stepped in to help make the baskets
Finally the lilies were planted and they did not do well.  It was a wet wet spring, (actually it's been a wet wet summer too) and slugs did some major damage killing several of the plants.  Not to worry though because I don't care for lilies anyway, right?

Well this past week I took a stroll in the garden and what did I spy hiding behind the asparagus.

The lilies have started to bloom.  So I took a closer look

And that is when I lost my heart completely.  Did I say I don't like lilies?  NO.  Who could dislike this perfect bloom?!  Not me!  I couldn't have picked a nicer plant if I had tried.  The creamy blossoms tinged with green are breathtaking.  Hide them behind another plant?  Never.  They live outdoors so who cares about smell. When can I order more?  Well, I'll have to wait until next spring.  In the meantime I'll be making more bulb baskets.


  1. I love lilies, but like you, the smell nauseates me too. It is not that it is always so bad smelling, it is how strong and literally overwhelming. It can knock you over when you enter a room. I get a lot of Easter lilies as gifts because so many folks know that I have them in the garden, so the lilies have to be inside until it is warm enough to be planted. I keep them very close to the back door too. I like your lone bloomer, but it looks like he will have some company soon.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about flowers sneaking into your heart! Enjoy. :)

  3. Marguerite, I like a little less make up on my girls. What a great line! I laughed out loud. Isn't it funny how we can so completely change our minds on plants?
    Does that yellow lily even have a smell? I find the Asiatics have the strongest scent. Some varieties barely even have any fragrance though.
    I love your Martagon lily. I had one last year (mine was deep orange-red), but it does not seem to have come back. Yours is really pretty.

  4. What a beautiful shot - a perfect bloom, in my humble opinion!

  5. I wholeheartedly defend the right of any gardener to change their mind about plants they love and hate ;-) I love lots of lilies but refuse to grow them any more because of the lily beetle issue. Your dark purple beauty almost makes me waver, but the thought of all those horrid little red critters that I have to hunt day in and day out means I shall enjoy yours instead, at a safe distance!

  6. lol a womans perogative to change her mind ;o)

    I'm glad I hadn't found your blog when you wrote about hating lilies or I might not have come back, I love them, my commom orange day lilies are from my Dad's garden so are Dad's lilies, the oriental lilies were a feebie and I love them, love the perfume and even like the pink! ones, I bought more orientals last autumn and a perfumed yellow day lily this spring, I don't have any martagon lilies think they must be next,
    I love both your wonderful lilies and am thrilled they won you over, though you would have to have a hard heart not to be and you're a softie,
    like you we are not having much summer but ours is dry and cold north east winds, still can't believe it's august, Frances

  7. Donna - I think there's something about locking that scent in an enclosed room that really overpowers me. Although lilies are lovely in bouquets I just can't abide them in the house.

    Ms.S - we're just suckers for a pretty face aren't we? :-)

    Jennifer - I stuck my face in this flower to see if there was a scent but it was pretty faint if it was there. Seems to me I read the Orientals had a strong scent. Either way, I'll be leaving these plants out of doors to be on the safe side.

    Jane - I think so too! I couldn't believe how lovely that flower was.

  8. Janet - I've heard about lily beetles but have yet to encounter them. I guess that will be an issue I'll need to look out for. Right now I'm concerned as apparently lily bulbs are a favourite delicacy of voles.

    Frances - I cannot believe it's August either!! It feels like summer never started and yet the other day there was a chill in the air that reminded me of autumn. How sad that is to see the end coming already.

  9. I love fickle gardeners. That red lily is most unusual!! I may need to start building those cages. Somebody is eating a lot of my plants from underground...I say somebody because it might be a chipmunk...maybe. Makes me crazy!

  10. You wouldn't be a gardener if you didn't change your mind about plants! I have to admit, lilies are not my favorite flower. When we moved into our house years and years ago the first plants to be removed were the lilies and the roses. I enjoy seeing both in other people's gardens but they are too high maintenance for mine. Although your photos do remind me how lovely they can be.

  11. Oh you are so fickle! But that sweet yellow lily would have turned my head too. You can change your mind about anything in your garden, it's your own piece of Eden to be as fickle you wish.

    Those baskets Jody made are just the thing. I need those! I have seen little one-bulb cages that are expensive for planting a tulip, and not useful for masses. Yours look like the perfect solution.

  12. In *Time and the Gardener,* Elizabeth Sheldon writes about this experience of denouncing some plant only to fall in love with it a decade later. (It makes me think twice about announcing my dislikes; maybe someday I'll be totally smitten with those caramel-colored heuchera that look to me as though their leaves have died!) As far as your lily goes, I could not resist a yellow that soft and lovely in any plant. -Jean

  13. Janet - from what I've read the Martagon (red) lily isn't all that common and they take forever to reproduce. I just really liked that deep red colour.

    Debbie - I have the same issues! I tend to avoid plants that are known as high maintenance. Gardening is so much work as it is, I like my plants to be more carefree.

    Laurrie - I couldn't find baskets for sale anywhere so had to make my own! Luckily these were pretty easy. I went to the Agro-coop and bought the smallest sized hardware cloth they had. I messed with a pattern on paper first so I knew how I wanted to cut the baskets and then snipped away. Lots of cuts on my hands but relatively easy. I just hope they work.

    Jean - that yellow really is amazing. I was swept off my feet. umm, I completely understand about that heuchera, can I admit to not liking another plant?! Probably best to stay mum after this.

  14. Nice, glad to see you have moved over to the lily side, they are a great flower. I have some bright orange ones. You are right though you have to plant something along with it so it takes up some of the nothing leaf plant of the lily. I planted day lilies beside a lot of them as they produce the green sprigs then the lilies jump out and they all fit nicely together. Enjoy