As the gardening year gets underway at Longmeadow, Monty is tidying up his ornamental grass border, pruning roses and growing lilies in pots.Joe Swift continues his series on trees when he gives tips on how to plant a tree for future success.
Rachel de Thame follows a fragrant trail and explains how even the tiniest of flowers pack a punch in the perfume stakes.
And, in the first of several visits, we join the head gardener of Britain’s most famous garden at Sissinghurst as he sets out his plans to restore it to its original vision.
Growing lilies in pots
Lilies can be grown in the ground, but on heavy, clay soils have a tendency to rot. Underground slugs can be a major problem too. One solution is to grow them in cheap plastic pots which you can then sink into the border at a later date. The alternative is to plant them in something more decorative on the patio. Whichever sort of pot you choose, it needs to be deep.
There are two main types of lily: Oriental and Asiatic. Garden centre packs are often labelled as such and it’s important to know the difference. Oriental lilies generally come in white or various shades of pink, and are nearly always highly scented. As a rule, they won’t tolerate alkaline conditions and so are best grown in an ericaceous compost for acid-loving plants. Asiatic lilies, on the other hand, tend to be brightly coloured with no scent. They are very hardy and will tolerate the lime present in most multi-purpose composts.
Unlike other bulbs, lilies lack a protective outer coat and so are very prone to drying out. Look for plump bulbs and plant straight away! If they look rather shrivelled, consider buying them from a specialist mail-order supplier. All lilies demand good drainage, so it’s worth using lots of crocks in the bottom of your pot. For best results, plant your lilies deep with 15cm (6in) of compost on top. Three bulbs to a 35cm (14in) pot is fine.
If lily beetle is a major problem in your garden, consider growing Lilium regale, the Regal lily. It’s an easy one to grow and research has shown that it is less susceptible to attack.
Another thing to bear in mind is that all parts of a lily are poisonous to cats, not just the pollen.
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.
Roses can be expensive plants, but they last for many, many years and are easy to establish if you follow a few simple steps on planting and aftercare.