Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The winner in the weather
These leopard lilies (lilium pardilinium) seem to revel in the cool, damp weather we have been getting this summer.
They have completely taken over one half of a long border - rising up through everything else with their glossy whorls of leaves topped by these recurving spotted flowers - like elaborate turbans.
Lilies are an interesting flower from a commercial point of view. They are the most expensive bulbs I buy and as you can't cut them the first year that adds to the cost both in money and space. They are, however, essential at this time of year - taking over from the alliums and filling in the "big bloom" gap until the dahlias, sunflowers and gladioli come on stream.
Lilies are also a standard florist (and supermarket) flower. Amy Stewart's book Flower Confidential documents the development of the Stargazer lily and how it was its upright facing buds and increased "packability" that led to its cornering the market. Certainly you would not want to try and pack these into florists boxes - the buds all hang down and the flowers are short and wide - they also go from bud to bloom in a few hours, though the blooms than have a good vase life.
My customers - and I am aware that they are a self selecting group - are also not that keen on lilies - particularly scented lilies and "no scented lilies" is the most common note on my subscription database. I, however, love these - they are elegant, rich and at the moment taking over the garden.
By the way - ages ago I paid a fortune for some "Bellingham hybrid" leopard lilies as recommended by Christopher Lloyd - these grow in my garden alongside the species variety and I can see no difference at all in looks of vigour (though there is a 4 fold difference in price).