Gardening / Leaping into lovely liliums

Liliums… a long flowering period and many are highly fragrant.
Liliums… a long flowering period and many are highly fragrant.

LILIUMS (or lilies) are great for fragrance and long flowering, and now’s the time to plant them.

There are more than 80 recorded species of liliums, mostly from the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

They offer a long flowering period and many are highly fragrant. The great beauty of lilies is their ease of growing, provided a few simple rules are followed.

Cedric Bryant.
Cedric Bryant.

The first requirement is excellent drainage. Depending on how well the soil has been prepared over the years, in existing gardens this usually won’t present a problem. However, in new gardens where, perhaps, builders have removed the top soil and left a bed of clay, it is a different matter.

The old idea was to dig in lots of gypsum to break down the clay, but these days the answer is to use a liquid soil treatment and ground breaker, which changes heavy clay and compacted soils into usable soil without the need for digging.

This improves water penetration and aeration by improving the soil structure. Liquid soil breakers are available from most garden centres and DIY stores. When planting, it’s also a good idea to add plenty of organic matter, which at this time of the year could be fallen leaves. I prefer to shred them with the mower and work them into the soil with cow manure.

If the ground is really bad it may be helpful to put a handful of washed river sand in the bottom of the hole and plant on a raised mound.

Plant liliums in a bright, open, sunny spot. If you have existing liliums in shade due to surrounding trees or shrubs, now’s the time to move them.

Bulbs should be planted to the same depth as the bulb is thick.

Also the queen of flowers, the peony, can be planted over the next few weeks using all the same planting suggestions as for liliums.

Nevertheless, these hints apply when planting all plants, whether bulbs, perennials or shrubs.

The queen of flowers, the peony.
The queen of flowers, the peony.
ROSES will arrive at garden centres soon and there are some exciting new varieties, which have been trialled and tested at the Rose Society’s trial gardens in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Given that the majority are initially bred overseas (mainly Europe), this process ensures they are suitable for Australian conditions. I will detail some of the new arrivals over coming columns.

Meanwhile, when buying roses look for plants that are not less than two years old, have good, thick stems and are sourced from local garden centres, where they are kept in ideal conditions, potted and in the open.

To be first to market, some supermarkets sell year-old roses with pencil-thin stems at giveaway prices. Often, these have been artificially defoliated, sold packaged in plastic bags and kept in artificially lit, heated shops. New shoots will often be seen growing in these bags.

Unfortunately, a couple of good frosts will mean the end of those newly purchased roses you thought were a bargain!

Jottings…

  • Don’t worry about ants on citrus trees, they are just eating the honeydew from scale insects and are beneficial.
  • For roses over two years with fungal problems, spray with Lime Sulphur once they have lost their leaves.
  • Add a good handful of garden lime and a watering can of seaweed plant nutrient to every couple of barrows full of leaves on the compost heap.
  • Grant Allen will discuss matching the right garden tool to the right job in a free talk at The Garden Plant Nursery, 148 Parkwood Road, Macgregor, 10.30am, on June 14. Bookings to 6254 6726. Worm farms and composting will feature at the next talk on June 21.

 

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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