The summer blooming Lilies have to be one of my favorite plants in the garden. OK, I know I have said that about a number of plants but this time I really mean it. Lilies are such a versatile plant and easy to squeeze in any border, as long as a few requirements are met. Good drainage is the key. They are a bulb and wet can make them rot so that is a big problem in the Northwest. Fortunately here at Old Goat Farm we are gardening on glacier-till so drainage is great. Lilies also like to be fed so an annual composting seems to make them very happy (thank you chickens).
Many plants have ‘lily’ as part of their common name (such as daylily or peace lily) are not true lilies. True lilies belong to the genus Lilium. They grow from bulbs made of fleshy, overlapping scales with no protective covering.
True lilies have stiff stems with relatively narrow strap like leaves from top to bottom. Large, showy flowers develop at the tip of each stem. These flowers may be trumpet-shaped, bowl shaped, or bell shaped with reflexed petals. They may nod downward, face outward, or turn upwards and they come in a wide variety of colors. many are also delightfully fragrant.
The trick is figuring out which types you want to grow. You have your choice of Asiatic, Martagon, Candidum, American hybrids, Longiflorum, Trumpet, Oriental, Speicies and other hybrids. Personally I choose ALL. Actually I have tried all but whatever does really well I take note of and then I add more of that type so I have a lot of Asiatica, Martagon and Oriental. By selecting different types you can have lilies blooming in your garden from mid June until September.
I had said you can squeeze them in anywhere, well I really mean that. For plant collectors who have trouble finding a spot for one more plant, lilies are perfect. You can plant them in-between the crowns of other perennials so the other perennial shade the base of the lilies and then the stem rises above the other plants. As they are blooming the lower foliage seems to look a bit tattered so planting them in-between other plants helps to hide the bad looking foliage. Keep in mind the height of the lilies, some only get 2 or 3 feet while others may rise to 8 feet.
Most lilies like full sun in order to grow nice and straight. If planted in too much shade they tend to reach for the sun so either lean quite a bit or have extended growth and tip over. One type, the Martagon, is a bit more tolerant of shade. It has a thicker stem so seems to be sturdier and it also seems to bloom just as well as in the sun.
Old Goat Farm carries a lot of lilies in the nursery. What doesn’t sell ends up in the garden so it’s all good. This year is even better than last. It has been particularly mild this summer so the lilies are very happy. Seeing all of them right now makes me happy too.