New tree lilies on trial
One of the perks of my job is that I get to try out new plant introductions. Which is how I came to plant three very fat lily bulbs this spring. Tree lilies, to be precise.
The buzz on the block - well, the horticultural blurb from Thompson & Morgan, to be more precise - is that tree lilies grow up to 8ft in as little as two years, and that one single bulb can produce up to thirty 8-inch trumpet blooms. The stalks are almost 5cm thick.
This is my Starburst's first year of flower, and it's doing rather well (above). The stems are only just over 2ft tall and a mere half-inch thick, the flowers are 8ins in diameter if you uncurl the petals and measure from tip to tip, and there are only a combined amount of 19 flowers, some still in bud.
The fragrance isn't 'fantastic', as T & M state - it's sweet and pleasant - but then nothing matches the perfume of Lilium regale. Whether you like the paintbrush effect of jammy red on lemon is a matter of personal preference; I rather like it.
The point of this lily, like the other new tree lilies, is that it's bigger and bolder than the rest - and judging by its premier performance in this summer of grey skies and relentless rain, it will be a stormer next summer.
My lily favourite, however, is Lilium nerone (above), which is currently flowering on the terrace and has garnered more compliments than Starburst. It isn't that big but is certainly bold and is decidedly beautiful: shiny, carmine-red speckled tiger lilies. Absolutely stunning. When they produce a tree lily with those blooms, T & M will really have something to trumpet.