Wells Voice Article September 2020

Hot heads and cold feet. Which sounds like a description of certain politicians but here it is in a gardening context. My father-in-law always full of garden wisdom, said these were the two basic requirements for successfully growing Lilies. Give them these conditions, along with all the other attentions and needs, regular feed and tender care etc. etc. and they will reward you with a magical display in the summer sunshine. And it works. Not only that. Spring bulbs in garden centres and bulb catalogues are now demanding our attention with all the usual blandishments raising our expectations for next year's wonderful display. If grown in large pots, a plastic one inside a pottery pot, this conveniently covers the second requirement. Most lilies need to be planted 6 inches down and kept watered but not wet. The container can then be shifted around the garden to provide the maximum impact. 

There are drawbacks as always in the garden. Once the things start to emerge the Battle of the Lily Beetle starts. These recently arrived, albeit attractive red creatures, start off on your fritillaries in early spring and then move on to devastate the lilies. Daily inspection is the only answer. Armed with a plastic container and a very satisfying hammer I set about the task of knocking them off their perch and then doing the business. Again on the downside I discovered the Beetle's Revenge in the form of the most ferocious hay fever; lilies have a most wonderful fragrance which can fill the whole garden. But don't get too close. The pollen on the stamens can also stain. 

There's a nice story of a contentiously opinionated professor on a visit to one of our best botanical gardens. His hosts, more and more irritated by his manner, invited him to smell a fine stand of lilies. He emerged with a bright orange nose. His hosts in a united conspiracy said nothing. Even at dinner that evening, the evidence still shone brightly. 

They toil not neither do they spin. Lilies are there solely to be admired.

So now's the time to think about next year as if we haven't been thinking about the future all year. Have a look at our developing website: www.wellsgarden.club and continue to plant for the future. 

Pip Harwood