Tag Archives: auratum lilies

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 3 February, 2012

Our pregnant gecko, Glenys, is back in view

Our pregnant gecko, Glenys, is back in view

Latest posts: Friday 3 February, 2012

1) The battle with the water weeds in Abbie’s column this week.

2) One for the dendrologists in Plant Collector this week – Pinus montezumae. It takes a bit to convince most New Zealanders that any pine tree is capable of being special but garden visitors do single our specimen of P.montezumae as being a tree out of the ordinary realm of the common pine.

3) Grow it yourself – silver beet. Some people are even alleged to enjoy eating this iron-rich but utility vegetable.

4) Welcome back Glenys, our highly prized but rather shy resident gecko. We are terribly excited by the evidence that we have a population of gecko in our garden, though that excitement does not appear to have been widely shared by others! But in this country, the small skinks are a common sight whereas our native gecko is nocturnal, elusive and rarely seen.

5) Check out the lily photo album I am building on our Facebook garden page. If you feel inclined to “like” the whole Facebook page, it would be most gratifying. Our popularity on Facebook lags behind the visitor numbers to our websites, and even the subscribers. This may of course just indicate that gardeners are less inclined to use social networks.

The auratum lily season is late this year, but no less spectacular for its delay

The auratum lily season is late this year, but no less spectacular for its delay

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 3 February, 2012

Oh summer, where art thou? Even the auratum lilies seem to be waiting for some real summer heat before opening fully in all their glory. This may go down in history as one of the coolest summers in recent history. On the bright side, the garden is very lush and green and working conditions are not unpleasantly hot. In fact, for Lloyd and I cleaning out the ponds and stream in our park, working conditions have been very pleasant. I just like a little searing heat to justify the fact we have a swimming pool. It has had precious little use so far this year.

Mark is very excited to see the blandfordia coming into flower. I have tried to photograph it but even by our standards, it is still looking a little too modest to boast about. It may look more notable when additional buds open. The reason for our excitement is that it was planted in the rockery by Felix Jury and as Felix died in 1997, it means it has been there for quite a long time and not doing very much. In fact, in all those years, it has only flowered twice before. Its third flowering is cause to celebrate.

Our Lloyd makes a prettier sight than I do when it comes to weeding the pond

Our Lloyd makes a prettier sight than I do when it comes to weeding the pond

Plant Collector: The golden-rayed lily of Japan (Lilium auratum)

The wonderfully fragrant auratum lily hybrids - hybridising and raising from seed keeps the plants healthy and reduces problems with virus

The wonderfully fragrant auratum lily hybrids - hybridising and raising from seed keeps the plants healthy and reduces problems with virus

The golden-rayed lily of Japan – what a beautifully evocative common name. We grow quite a few lilies here but it is the auratum hybrids that are the mainstay of our summer garden. These are the results of decades of breeding, first by Felix Jury and now by Mark. This particular pink one is a pleasing new selection from that breeding programme. There is no commercial gain in breeding these auratums. The aim is to extend the colour range and vigour so they perform better as plants in our own garden as well as keeping them free of virus, which is common. We also prefer outward facing flowers (rather than the upward facing blooms used in floristry) because that gives more protection from the weather.

The hybrids are bigger and showier than the species. This flower is over 30cm across so not for the shy or retiring gardener. The species are predominantly white with yellow or red streaks and crimson spotting. Hybridising extends that colour range into pure whites, white with dominant yellow markings, reds and pinks. We also want strong growing plants that can hold themselves up without needing to be staked every year and which will keep performing under a regime of benign neglect (which means digging and dividing every decade, not every second year). We grow them both in sun and on the woodland margins – wherever there are reasonable light levels, good drainage and soil rich in humus.

Auratums are offered for sale as dormant bulbs from time to time but they don’t like being dried out and dessicated so try and find ones which are plump and firm.

Saving the best for last: oh, the fragrance. The auratum lilies are one of the flowers I cut to bring indoors. A single stem has multiple blooms and can scent a large room all by itself. I remove the pollen which will stain everything it falls upon.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Plant Collector – auratum lilies

Auratum lily Flossie - one of Felix Jury's hybrids

Auratum lily Flossie - one of Felix Jury's hybrids

I don’t cut flowers to bring indoors very often. When every window of the house looks out to a garden, it doesn’t seem necessary. But as soon as the auratum lilies start to open, I reach for the kitchen scissors and head out. They are just the perfect cut flower – one stem can have up to ten flowers (sometimes even more) and put in a tall, slender vase they not only look superb, they can spread their delicious scent through an entire room.

Auratums are known as the golden-rayed lily of Japan – how lovely does that sound? The flowers are the largest of the lily family, often more than 20cm across, and they are a mainstay of our January garden. Felix Jury adored them (probably for all the same reasons that we do) and dabbled with breeding them, naming several selections. This one is the very large flowered Flossie. The upshot is that we have a lot of auratums in the garden and generally they are quite happy with benign neglect, growing in both full sun and semi shade. They prefer soils with good drainage and plenty of humus but not too rich.

The bulbs are large – fist-sized even – and we tried to get around all the plants last winter to dig and divide them. They haven’t had any attention for many, many years but when the clumps get too congested, the tops tend to fall over if they are not staked. The freshly divided patches are mostly standing up like little soldiers without any assistance. Some of the taller ones can get over 2m high and they need some support though often I will intertwine them through neighbouring plants.

You can sometimes find lily bulbs for sale in garden centres in winter. Make sure you avoid any dry, shrivelled specimens – they do not like to be dried out completely even when dormant. You may be lucky and find some auratums but they are not widely offered on the NZ market despite their spectacular summer display.

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 21 January, 2011

Auratum lilies - a mainstay of our summer garden

Auratum lilies - a mainstay of our summer garden

LATEST POSTS: Friday 21 January, 2010

1) Mid summer is the time for auratum lilies – Plant Collector this week.

2) Garden tasks for the week.

3) In Outdoor Classroom this week, we take the first of a two part look at making compost – simple options.

TIKORANGI NOTES: Friday 21 January, 2010

The auratum lilies are a highlight of summer here. We have yet to master the classic summer herbaceous borders but we can do the auratums well. Divinely scented, big, bold and impossible to ignore, they grow well in both full sun and semi shade. Fortunately, the lily beetle which we saw in English gardens, has not made its way past border control here. That is certainly one pest we can do without.

The glory of the auratum lilies

The glory of the auratum lilies