I have had a fascination and love for lilies most of my gardening life. My earliest memory was in Kirkton in Dundee where my granny lived. She had a gravel path on the south side of the house and every summer up came a mass of tall white scented lilies straight through the gravel. At that time I was being trained as a gardener and since I was in my early teens I knew all about gardening!!!
I mean, I cut grannies grass, planted a rose border for her plus a flower border and some grew some vegetables for her. I knew that plants grow better if they get good soil, so I thought I would
rejuvenate the lilies that grew underneath the gravel
path. In the dormant season I dug up the lilies and was horrified to find there
was no soil, just a heap of broken bricks left behind by the builders. Being
young, keen and full of energy I soon excavated a deep trench of rubble and
replaced it with good top soil before replanting grannies special lilies. I
waited patiently for the massive display the following summer. The lilies never
recovered, but grannies are very forgiving. Lessons learned at great expense.
Good drainage is essential.
Today my garden is just full of lilies, but with knowledge that to keep them happy good drainage is very important, and a warm sunny border is much preferred. They still get good soil, as well as a mulch as many varieties are stem rooting. Most are grown with other plants at their feet to shade the ground and retain moisture as well as giving them support. Azaleas are a good plant as they do not have deep roots so less competition and they will accommodate those that only grow a few feet tall. For taller varieties of lily I plant them in between peonies. Tall varieties may need canes to support them otherwise the large heavy flowers will arch down to the ground.
In the early days I started off with the cheaper Lilium regale. It has large white flowers with a strong exotic scent and is easy to grow but needs staking. Then I had to try the very special Golden Ray of Japan, Lilium auratum. A real cracker, but quite tall so they needed good support. In the autumn I collected the seed pods and tried to germinate these after some winter chilling. The following spring I got about thirty young plants which are now all over my garden.
When the scent is important you must go for the oriental types, so bulbs were purchased in autumn of Casa Blanca, Muscadet, Brasilia and Stargazer.
Another brilliant white lily is Lilium candidum the Madonna lily, but take care with this one as the stems are not surface rooting so do not plant it deep, otherwise it can be prone to botrytis.
Asiatic lilies come in a wide range of colours and only grow a couple of feet tall but unfortunately have no scent.
Many plants are termed lilies, but are not really in the lily family though they can still be very attractive. Water lilies are a must if you have a pond, and the day lily, Hemmerocallis is very popular. I am trying out the yellow Patricia with double flowers. These only last for one or two days, but they are quite prolific so put on a good show.
Calla lily, also known as the Arum lily, is also very popular both in white form as well as many other colours. The Arum lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica is quite hardy but likes moisture and fertile soil as well as a warm aspect. The Callas come from South Africa so warm conditions improve growth and flowering. Some species of Calla are not hardy and may need winter protection with a mulch or may need lifting up and overwintering in a frost proof shed.
Mid summer has the garden looking at its best for our enjoyment as well as visitors, so we must keep it tidy. Wet weather following on from warm days has encouraged weeds to grow rapidly so hoe or pull these out before they get established. Many shrubs and roses have completed their first flush of flowers and these plus older leaves fall down to the ground encouraging slugs and snails and looking very untidy. This debris plus the summer flush of weeds can all go on the compost heap, which will be building up with rhubarb leaves and grass cuttings.