Monday, January 10, 2011
A Year in the Life - Lilium 'Black Beauty'
Lilium 'Black Beauty'
There I was, at the Yard Garden & Patio Show last spring. Anyone who has been to one of those shows knows how overwhelming they can be. Tons of people, tons of products. I made it over to a small booth for the Lily Pad Bulb Farm, where they had baskets of lily bulbs as big as my fist. I picked up one of the giant bulbs, labeled 'Black Beauty'. The photo on its label showed a blossom like something from a dream, deep raspberry-red flowers with a white margin and darker red speckling. Most inportantly, it had those lovely, recurved petals, what I'd later learn was referred to as a "Turk's Cap Lily". I bought 3 of those giant bulbs, giddy with the idea of having my own lilies.
Here is a photo taken April 7, right as the first lily is emerging (about a month after planting). In areas prone to late frosts, I would definitely cover the buds with some leaves should frost threaten. In general, they are not bothered by pests, but slugs would happily feed on the new shoots. I constantly apply slug bait around the lilies for the first month or so, especially after a heavy rain.
Believe it or not, this picture was taken after only another week or so, on May 16. As you can see by all the lovely white pellets, I was still scattering slug bait at this point...no taking chances!
Here are the same plants on May 4, about 2 weeks later. As you can see, by the time they reached this size, I had stopped with the slug bait. Yes, that's a lovely garden hose in the background :-) I believe just after this pic was taken I decided to plant a Sanguisorbia in the middle of these three lilies, to cover the bare ground and give a little more interest...lily flowers are lovely, but their bare knees could use a little covering-up. The "naked ankles" syndrom is exacerbated by the fact that my garden is on a slope and they were right at the top of that slope.
Here is a full-on view of the garden, warts and all! 'Black Beauty' is circled on the left hand side. Pretty much that entire 1/3 of the garden was planted this spring, so was still a little empty this year. Hopefully things will fill out this coming year and all the gaps and bare ground will be covered.
And here we have 'Black Beauty' this autumn, just before a hard free stripped the stems of their leaves. I can't remember if other lilies I've had turn such a lovely shad of yellow in the fall...it was definitely a nice surprise!
So there you have it, Lilium 'Black Beauty', a lily I can heartily recommend for its easiness to grow, toughness and stunning beauty. I'm hoping my 3 bulbs are happy in their spot and come back this year, and that they multiply to create a nice colony. I've already got visions of 7' tall stalks with 50 blooms each dancing in my head :-) Do any of you grow lilies...if so, what are your faves, your disappointments?