SUMMER symbolises the fulfilment of the gardeners’ year and the results of earlier labour finally come to fruition.
It is a season of lavender and roses, of rich red peonies and rainbow irises, of murmuring bees and the heady scent of Lilium regale. Altogether early summer is a dream time, with gardens in most estates a riot of scent and colour.
The warm summer nights too have a spell-binding beauty.
There is a temptation to linger outside longer than usual, and when the mantle of evening drives all but the youngest inside, doors and windows may be left wide open to the still and warm, scented air. If only for this reason, we should grow a few fragrant plants close to the house and what better than a scented lily from Japan sold as Lilium Auratum.
Now I am conscious of my persistent promotion and mention of the Regale lily in this column, but I would choose Auratum above this and all the others for some very good reasons.
To begin, it has huge, white trumpet blooms, marked with lines of lemon and gold, at the centre of which lie green stamens and golden anthers.
Its tall stems of soft, rich green foliage never need staking, and it is blessed with a scent so powerful it can lift you beyond all worldly distractions. It is also regarded as the tallest of all the lilium flowers.
Another reason why one should treasure this oriental lily is because it symbolizes purity of heart, fertility, and association with the Virgin Mary, fresh life, and rebirth.
Its common name is the golden rayed hill lily of Japan.
Like many things in life today, terms and conditions apply to lilium Auratum, but these are few and easily complied with.
As with all lilies, avoid badly drained soil and excess winter wet. Do this by adding as much as 50 per cent grit (small gravel) to the backfill and drop a generous trowel-full of the same into the hole so that the bulbs never sit in waterlogged conditions.
Next, plant deeply.
I urge you to go down eight inches or more in the open ground, and at least two thirds the depth of a deep pot when using containers.
Feed with a liquid seaweed preparation when in strong growth but avoid manure.
Top-dress pot grown specimens with grit or chippings to stop the growth of algae and moss on the surface.
To conclude, may I add that this easy and persistent miracle will undoubtedly delight and look best when grown in groups of three. 'Better' gardeners should certainly try to source these. Find outlets on the internet.