Why didn't I plant more martagon lilies?
Martagon lilies (also called turk's cap lilies) are ideal for every shady garden. Why didn't I plant more last fall?
Ah, March.Skip to next paragraph
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Recently we hit 50 degrees F. (10 C) outside, rain came down in buckets, the snow pack melted, and, braving the downpour, I discovered charming little clumps of white snowdrops (Galanthus spp) and patches of warm buttercup yellow winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) canoodling with the plump new buds of hellebores throughout my woodland borders.
Looking at these first floral harbingers of spring, I know that once again, Persephone, the beautiful Greek mythological goddess of innocence associated in a big way with the coming of spring, is getting ready to once again make her appearance.
And thoughts of Persephone -- in their own quirky manner -- lands my mind on thoughts of pure, gleaming white, heavenly scented ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental lilies [see second photo at left] – and the fact that I really should have planted more of these glamorous showgirls in my garden last fall.
Though fall-planted lily bulbs have the advantage of developing well-established roots before the growing season begins, lily (Lilium) bulbs can still be purchased in the spring for that season’s bloom. And since I’m not a perfect gardener – who among us is? – I’m on a mission right now to purchase some additional bulbs knowing full well that although I’ll stress the plants a bit this season, they’ll recoup to produce full-sized dazzling, pristine blossoms the year after.
While the term “lily” is applied to many different plants, “true or hardy lilies” belong only to the genus Lilium.
Let me tell you, on any warm, sultry summer’s evening, there is nothing that can compare to the intoxicating perfume of lilies wafting across the garden. The scent is unmistakably heady.
And with looks ranging from the elegant to the exotic, lilies are the center of attention in any landscape. Certainly, these garden idols have it all: classic beauty and grace, dazzling color, and a stately presence – whether growing in the garden or displayed indoors in a vase.
Best yet, they are every “lazy gardener’s dream”: Just plant, stand back and watch them explode out of the ground.
True lilies grow from scaly bulbs and are easy-to-grow, long-lived garden plants. The lily family, comprised of nine major divisions, produce tall, upright plants with whorls of leaves running the length of the stem and blossoms that can be bell-, bowl-, trumpet-, flat-, or turk’s cap-shaped, facing every which way and borne singularly or in groups.
Lilies come in a wonderful range of colors – from pale shades like white, pink, peach, and lavender to the bold and brassy screamers such as crimson, neon-orange, and purple.
A long season of colorful bloom
Here in northern Illinois, the typical lily season lasts about four months, beginning with the first blooms of my favorite lily, martagon (or Turk’s caps), in early June.