It’s time to prepare for the power of primulasBy Linda Fort
January 30, 2009
I noticed some cheap bulbs on sale on my last trip to the garden centre.
One bulb that can still usefully be planted at this time of year – especially if you put it in a container – is the lily.
The range of lilies is immense and they generally flower reliably year after year.
Their only real pest is the lily beetle which is a real horror and should be watched for with an eagle eye.
First you can spot the scuttling orange beetle followed by the slimy larva which looks like a blob of bird excrement.
Kill the beetles if you can but definitely remove every blob of larval goo because these will do the damage.
If you keep looking you will find it all and remove it and the lilies will be none the worse. If you leave it, the leaves and flowers will rapidly turn to rags.
Lilies like full sun and good drainage which is why growing them in pots is so appropriate. If your soil is heavy then plant in autumn and make sure each lily bulb is sitting on a bed of grit.
Lilies come in all heights nowadays. When I was young they all seemed to be tall with flamboyant scented flowers – most elegantly with the recurving petals forming the distinctive turkscap shape.
If you see them at bargain prices it is worth picking up three of the fattest bulbs and planting now for a summer display.
For ready-made displays, there are primulas on sale everywhere.
They make a jolly show indoors and then can be planted outside for future flowering.
My personal favourites are the double forms – which are not quite so easy to find but worth seeking out.
I find the brilliantly coloured ones which look so great indoors never fit in when you put them in the garden. They just about work in a container but never seem to find a natural looking spot in the border.
However the double forms and the pale yellow ones that look most like the native primrose fit in comfortably.
The very heavy rain at the weekend has left my garden in a boggy state – although frozen right now as I write.
I shall be working from paths as much as I can for the time being.
I might even heave the big plank from the garage if I need to work on the borders while standing on the lawn.
Tramping on sodden soil and boggy lawns does nothing but damage to the soil structure and however much you long to get out and work you should beware of doing more harm than good.
Pottering on the patio does no harm at all.
Incidentally, while perusing the internet I discovered that lily bulbs are poisonous to cats.
It is up to you whether you think that is a good or a bad thing.