Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lovely Lilies Will Liven Up the Outlook; These Glorious Gems of the Plant World Will Add Excitement and Colour to Any Garden

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lovely Lilies Will Liven Up the Outlook; These Glorious Gems of the Plant World Will Add Excitement and Colour to Any Garden

Article excerpt

Byline: gardening With Diarmuid Gavin

IT may officially be spring in Ireland now St Brigid's Day has been and gone, but it doesn't really feel like that yet. As I peer out, the garden is covered in frost and the weather websites warn of -11C in places later today. Yikes! However, seasons do change and it won't be too long (hopefully) before temperatures rise and we get gardening again.

But in the meantime, we continue to plan, plot and dream, and if you're like me, most of those dreams will be of summer days filled with colour and blossom.

It may be hard to believe but now is the time to plan for summer lilies. They're one of the most beautiful plants to grace our borders with their statuesque stems dripping with trumpet flowers.

Often fragrant, their giant flowers bring excitement and elegance to the garden. They are easier to cultivate than they look and just wonderful for creating a dramatic impression.

So, if you didn't get any in the ground in autumn, why not plan on planting some in the next few weeks? If your ground is very wet at the moment, it's probably better to wait until the excess water drains away, otherwise the bulbs may rot.

A top tip is to sprinkle some horticultural grit at the base of the bulb to help keep it cosy and well drained. You can also plant them in their pots in the soil and lift them before winter to keep them dry. Lily bulbs are big and should be planted deep - they need at least six inches of soil over them.

The exception to this rule is the Madonna Lily, Lilium candidum. It has no stem roots and should be planted just beneath the surface in late July or early August.

This lily has a long history - it was seen in frescoes dating back to 1550BC on the walls at the Palace of Minos, in Knossos, Crete. Introduced by the Romans to Britain, the lily became a symbol of purity and chastity and eventually associated with the Virgin Mary, hence its common name.

With the explosion in plant-hunting in the 20th century, many beautiful lilies were discovered and then brought back to Britain. …

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