I always feel a bit torn between enjoying what’s happening in the garden right now and looking forward to what’s happening later in the year, so I try to aim for a nicely balanced mix of the two.
One of the really wonderful things to look forward to are all the lovely summer flowering bulbs. Once you’ve planted them they will obligingly appear year after year with little attention.
Lillies are one of the best summer flowering bulbs:
There are a whole array of them, I love to grow the ones that have a fabulous scent and the best of these is Lilium regale. The scent can truly be described as intoxicating.
They can be grown in pots, then moved near to where you sit outside. Simply stow them out of the way when they’ve finished flowering.
Plant the bulbs using a 50:50 mix of multi-purpose compost and John Innes loam based compost in a good sized plant pot, 50cm wide is good.
Looking after them:
Make sure the pot doesn’t dry out, and add some potassium rich feed like liquid tomato feed to encourage flowering. Trim off the flowers as they fade so the stems keep producing flowers.
They reach up to 1.8m and the flower-heads get quite heavy, so put the stakes in when you plant the bulbs and tie the stems in as they grow.
Look out for scarlet lily beetles in late spring/early summer. They can devastate the plant, when you find them whip them off the leaves and squish them. They have a clever method of falling to the ground lying on their back, disguised by their black front, so speed and stealth is required.
In early autumn, scrape off the top 5cm of soil when they’ve finished flowering and replace with new compost. The bulb stores all the energy for next years flowers, so it makes sense to feed it up.
If you can’t get any bulbs, you can buy them as plants and treat as above.
Although they look rather exotic they’re pretty tough and very easy to grow.
image: Susan Jenkins