Consider the Lily15th August 2009 • In The Garden • Stephanie Donaldson
The best lilies are wondrous flowers – voluptuous in appearance and fragrance – my favourite is ‘Casablanca’, which despite the predations of lily beetles, are looking – and smelling – quite intoxicating right now.
I’ve given up ordering any more lilies for growing in pots, the flowers may look lovely, but the munched foliage becomes increasingly tatty, followed by the disgusting larvae which tuck themselves into the leaf axils and coat themselves in a protective layer of their excrement – yuk! However, I have found that the established clumps in the borders are more resilient (or the foliage is better concealed) and they are surviving well from year to year without signs of being weakened by the beetles.
When I visited Thompson & Morgan’s trial grounds last week, the lily displays caught my eye – not simply because of their appearance – but because of the clouds of hoverflies around each flower. I’d never thought of lilies as attracting beneficial insects, but since then I’ve noticed hoverflies massed around every bloom I see. There was one lily that tempted me at T&M – Lilium Triumphator – I would love to establish a clump of them in one of the borders. It doesn’t yet appear in their catalogue, but is currently available from www.bucklandplants.co.uk .
On the subject of lilies – did you know that their pollen is toxic to cats? If there is a cat in your home, you should cut the stamens off when you bring lilies indoors – if the cat brushes against it and then grooms itself it can be fatal. Outdoors, try and grow your lilies where cats are unlikely to come in contact with the flowers. Finally – am I the only one with an aversion to Stargazer lilies? Lily trumpets should nod, not face upwards like glorified feather dusters!