A group of liliums in full bloom is a joy to behold and now is the time to think about planting new bulbs.
We are most fortunate in our lovely state to have a range of garden soils suited for the cultivation of these regal beauties.
We only have to compare the difficult climates in other parts of the world where these plants are grown to understand why we seem to be gradually advancing in lilium breeding ahead of the hybridisers in the northern hemisphere.
In fact only in New Zealand can liliums be grown in the open garden that are equal to ours.
The soil is the most important factor in growing liliums successfully. If you can give a lilium soil in which it is happy then you have won nine-tenths of the battle.
The soil must be free-draining and of reasonable acidity. When drainage is a problem bulbs can be planted in raised beds.
A soil that is not well-drained, not slightly acidic and lacking in organic matter will leave liliums susceptible to rotting diseases and fungal problems.
Soil with a pH reading of 6.0 would be ideal.
If not, dig in some acidic organic matter such as composted pine bark or rotted pine needles.
Apart from a pH problem there is no doubt that composted organic material is a real benefit when it comes to growing exhibition class liliums.
Aged horse manure added as a mulch once the liliums have reached around 30cms high is a good summer mulch because the natural goodness is washed down to the roots in a diluted form which is then safely utilised by the liliums.
In New Zealand pine sawdust is widely used as a mulch with spectacular results, no doubt with a little blood and bone meal added.
Two groups that grow particularly well here are the Parkmanii hybrids and the Trumpets.
The Parkmanii hybrids are a breathtakingly beautiful range of liliums that have captured the imagination of gardeners all over the world.
We can grow these hybrids successfully whether they come from Western China, Japan or elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.
The majestic trumpets come in a vast array of shapes and colours flowering over many months.
Among these are found the Aurelians.
The original cross which brought to life this beautiful strain was made in France over 80 years ago by crossing Lilium sargentiae with Lilium henryi.
Lilium sargentiae is a native of Szechwen, China and has the most spectacular funnel-shaped, fragrant flowers.
This cross with similar ones using different trumpets and coloured forms of Lilium henryi has been repeated throughout the world and the resulting seedlings crossed again until we now have an outstanding group of liliums in all shades from purest white through to palest limes and greens to the darkest and most captivating apricots and oranges.
This group is very hardy, disease-resistant and has an air of superiority about it as most reach 1.5-2m tall and can produce 20-30 flowers on very strong stems.
Lilium bulbs should never be allowed to dry out. Store in the crisper of the refrigerator until planting.
May 21: The Australian Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Dr Miguel de Salas from the Tasmanian Herbarium will share highlights from years hunting and collecting plants in Tasmania. Visitors welcome.
June 2: The North West Tasmanian Lilium Society bulb sale, Latrobe Memorial Hall, 11am-1pm. Monthly general meeting follows at 2pm.
Daily: Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, Burnie. Open 9am to 5pm.