As I have reported before, making the new garden has been a struggle; one step forward two back. The latest setback was at the weekend when I managed to find time to lift my hyacinths and found that most had rotted, the result, i think, of the prolific leatherjackets attacking the baseplate of the bulbs which then rotted. I rescued bits but it is a setback.
So it is good to report that the OT lilies have done well. I bought a lot of lilies last year. Most were named and grown in pots and these pots have been planted out and have done reasonably. I also bought some mixed OT lilies and these were planted at work as cut flowers since they were small bulbs and expected to have two or three flowers per stem. In autumn I lifted them, kept them moist in compost, and planted them in my garden this spring, just as they were starting to make shoots. Like all the gardening so far, it was a rushed job, but the bed had been dug and I planted them in a crescent at the back of the border in front of a new hornbeam hedge, which you can’t now see!
OT lilies are hybrids between Oriental lilies (which are intolerant of lime and tend to have fragrant, saucer-shaped flowers) and trumpet lilies (which are usually lime tolerant and have er – trumpet-shaped blooms that are scented). Their hybrids are lime tolerant, tend to have upward-facing, open trumpet flowers, are fragrant and extremely vigorous. In the USA they are known s Orienpets. The other difference between these plants raised on either side of the Atlantic is that European hybrids tend to have ramrod upright stems with upward facing flowers and are quick to settle down while American hybrids usually have arching stems, nodding flowers with reflexed petals and can be slow to establish. *see below
Both series are longlived hybrids that proliferate slowly, maintaining big bulbs, unlike some Asiatic hybrids which multiply fast and need frequent division.
These hybrids are an amazing breeding achievement – crossing two types of lily that would not naturally be able to produce fertile seeds. The embryos have to be extracted from the seeds and grown on in the lab to produce these plants. They are NOT GM – they are more like test tube babies.
There are dozens of OT lilies and more are introduced every year. They are marketed as ‘Skyscraper’ lilies and ‘Tree’ lilies. They are ludicrously easy to grow in most soils. They do not like soils that are wet in winter and they prefer sun or only part shade. They are not fussy about soil pH. They are not really suitable for pots, except huge pots, because they are so tall they are inclined to fall over.
My plants were a random mix but are basically two shades of pink and white – not a representative mix at all, since OT lilies include yellow and oranges. But they are colourful, for a few weeks, and fill the garden with fragrance. In their second year they are about 1.2m high but I can expect them to be 2m high in a few years. In the past I have had them reach 2.4m.
AND NOW THE BAD NEWS
Last week I found my first lily beetle. I know they are present in Ireland but I have never seen one here until now. It was on its own and is now in lily heaven. So look out in North Wexford – the beetle has landed.
And two Orienpets
For the sake of completeness, here are two American Orienpets that have been in the garden at work for six years. They have not been divided and the bulbs have split so the original five bulbs are now far more and there are lots of stems. Both need to be divided, especially ‘Anastasia’ which is crowded and less tall than it used to be and should be. The bulbs are also near the surface. Despite this the stems are solid as a rock. Even so I should make the effort to divide and replant them in autumn.
Of the two, ‘Anastasia’ is my favourite. It has gorgeous, sweetly scented flowers and deep green leaves. I don’t mind that the stems are distinctly slanted. It is much more like an Oriental than a trumpet and reminds me of the superb L. speciosum, but flowers much earlier in the season. And since it tolerates lime, is a good substitute for that species.
‘Elusive’ should have been named Amazing. It can reach 3m high and these are not far off. Each stem has dozens of flowers, of a peachy pink suffused with yellow. Though there is some scent it is not as good as ‘Anastasia’. But who cares when five bulbs can produce this after six years!