Smelly but nice!

DSC_0001I wonder what the collective noun would be for a group of Lilies….a smellatron?? I suggest this because the scent emanating from these beauties is simply overpowering! Almost at their peak now, I leave the door open to allow the sweet smell to waft in. It is divine!DSC_0005

The pollen splashed petals are working hard to attract every passing flying insect and it looks like it has been succeeding!

Leopards spotted in Cheltenham!

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Belamcanda chinensis, the Leopard Lily or Blackberry Lily.

This is my plant of the day, easily grown from seed and flowering in it’s first year. A short, clump-forming rhizomatous hardy perennial with blue-green sword-shaped leaves and tall erect stems bearing yellow-orange flowers with orange-red to burgundy speckles in summer followed by clusters of large, black seeds.007

As the flowers begin to open they seem to be twisted. I have yet to see one unfurl itself from this position but I imagine it must hurt! Appearing to be dainty and delicate, this plant is reputed to be invasive in the southern states of north America where it apparently colonises wetland areas. That must be quite a sight but, fortunately, highly unlikely in the clay soil of Cheltenham!

 

The Dangers of ‘Help Yourself’

In my recent post on Lily Landini I mentioned the imminent white and pink trumpet flowers of Lily ‘Triumphator’. Well………..here they are!

Not ‘Triumphator’!

Not quite what I expected! Another bulb is still to flower so let’s hope the mistake was not repeated twice!

It is very irritating when something like this goes wrong but I only have myself to blame. In typical trusting fashion, I relied on the supplier to have the right bulbs in the right boxes when I helped myself from the enticing selection on display at the Hampton Court show. Someone probably hesitated, changed their mind and put a bulb back in the wrong box which I then picked up. I would not have purchased a lily this colour but, despite not knowing it’s name, I will find it a place in the garden.

Update

The second bulb opened today and to my relief…it was ‘Triumphator’!

Lily ‘Triumphator’

It is amazing to see the huge green bud one day and this huge trumpet flower the next, one of the wonders of nature.

How could any pollinating insect resist!

Loaded with pollen, this giant flower sits patiently waiting for some lucky insects to pass by.

 

Lily Landini

Lilium ‘Landini’

This Asiatic Lily is quite simply stunning. Photographs don’t do it justice. It is fully a metre tall with dark green glossy leaves and what are variously described as dark red, chocolate red, or burgundy red flowers. In differing light levels and aspects they can vary from a shade of very dark red to almost black. To me, they look good enough to eat, like dark bitter chocolate!

Two stems of Lily ‘Landini’

Unfortunately, like a lot of the most beautiful lilies, there is no scent to add to it’s credentials but it’s colour is enough to warrant inclusion alongside white and yellow forms to provide contrast and drama.

‘Landini’

I have to admit that I bought the bulbs at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show hoping that they would flower at the same time as the huge flowered white and pink Oriental Lilium longiflorum trumpet lily ‘Triumphator’ which I planted on the same day but, as is often the way with gardening, timing is everything and mine was off! Anyway, it will give another excuse for a separate post when the buds finally open next week. They are still in the greenhouse along with two pots of promising looking Turks Cap lilies, but colder nights may mean disappointing results. We’ll have to wait and see.

Pollen-Free Lilies

One of my mini trials this year has been to see if so called ‘pollen-free’ lilies are as worthy as the fully loaded versions. The main purpose was to find a group of lilies that I could grow as cut flowers but which did not have the usual annoying habit of dropping their pollen and staining hands, clothes, tablecloths and runners, and even furniture. Strong stuff that pollen! Incidentally, the last thing you do if you want to remove pollen from material of any kind is to use a damp cloth. This just makes things worse. The best thing to do is to use sticky tape and lift the pollen off without rubbing.

I bought 3 pink varieties for the trial; ‘Elodie’, ‘Miss Lucy’ and ‘Brokenheart’.

First mistake was ‘Elodie’. Absolutely no scent! What a waste of time and money. It looked like a lily which should have had pollen but had it washed off. The style and stamens were in place but there were no anthers or stigma and no pollen. Weird!

‘Elodie’ a pretty lilly and no pollen, but no scent either!

Next to open, two weeks later than ‘Elodie’ and thirteen weeks after planting, was ‘Miss Lucy’, a beautiful white and shell pink lily with an intense fragrance. Unlike ‘Elodie’, the reproductive parts are hidden by sepals which do do not open but form a central ‘cone’. Two stems in a vase filled the room with scent.

‘Miss Lucy’ pollen-free and highly fragrant.

A week later than ‘Miss Lucy and fourteen weeks after planting, ‘Brokenheart’ finally opened and is pleasant but not as striking as ‘Miss Lucy’ in my personal opinion.‘Brokenheart’ was certainly the most branched and with the most flowers, approx 6 on each stem, but the buds opened pointing downwards and gradually lifted their heads to reveal their beauty and amazing scent.

Overall, I would rate this trial a success because it has proved you don’t need the pollen to get beautiful scented lilies. However, the colour palette is currently limited and would therefore not satisfy every occasion. There is also one slightly worrying aspect which I need to investigate further. Although there is no pollen, the flowers appear to exude a colourless sticky residue which falls on to the leaves and then on to the surface holding the vase. In our case, this was an expensive oak side table! Fortunately, it does not seem to stain and is easily wiped off but annoying and unsightly nevertheless.