Garden Blog - Blog Post

Unmixed Lilies


A while back I cleared out a very small border that had become choked with carex grass and stumps of old buddleia. It was only a few feet long and barely a foot wide. Once cleared, instead of letting the grass grow back, I reached for my favourite tool – the lawn edger – and cut a small, but perfectly formed petite border.

I didn’t have anything to plant into it at the time but that was quickly solved by the purchase of two small bags of “mixed” lilies from the supermarket. With no idea what variety, shape, colour or form these lilies were, the results were going to be a complete surprise.

Mixed Lilies

Can you guess what variety they are yet?

After many weeks of anticipation, looking at a patch of bare earth, the lilies emerged in spring. We counted the number of plants that emerged and came up with a failure rate of 10% (we lost two). We lost another couple after some rather enterprising slugs managed to strip two plants bare. We watched out for signs of Lily beetle but thankfully, didn’t come across any. We carried on playing the waiting game.

As spring gave way to summer, the remaining lilies grew out their flowers buds, which then began to colour. We still had no idea what the flowers were going to look like so at one point, we were checking every day to see whether any had opened up. The buds coloured and got fatter and fatter but still refused to open.

Mixed Lily Buds

Still several days to go before opening.

Then, after several days of hot sunshine, the lilies were encouraged to all open in one big bash:

Mixed Lilies in Flower

The Petit Border Mixed Lily Show.

So in two packs of ten “mixed” lilies, the “mix” we have is a mix of two types. One is a deep, dark plum velvet while the other is a contrasting “raspberry and custard”. I don’t know what these varieties are and disappointingly they don’t smell. The two contrasting lilies go well together but I still find it amusing that in different packs of “mixed” lilies, we have exactly two varieties.

I’ve come across this before with “mixed” seeds, plants and bulbs where one person’s idea of “mixed” is very different to what you actually get. While I do like this particular “mix” of lilies and am well aware that it could have been much worse, I’ll leave the mixes to patio pots in future. I am planning to keep these lilies where they are and won’t be digging them up and I have plans for a much large expanse of lilies elsewhere but they will be selected varieties. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the show these two are currently putting on.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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lynngator 12/07/2015 - 5:21 pm

Sunil, I don’t know much about lilies, but that maroon variety is gorgeous! Quite a show indeed!

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:32 pm

Hello Lynn, I think the sum of these two lilies is more than the separate varieties. They look much better together than they would apart. It is a lucky “mix” in that sense.

susan maclean 12/07/2015 - 5:24 pm

Yes, not much of a mixture, Sunil, but at least value for money! I don’t grow those kind of lilies but I do like day lilies and this is a wonderful year for them, mine are truly spectacular for the first time!

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:34 pm

Hello Mrs Mac, I can’t remember how much is was per bulb, but I think the price was reasonable. I have day lilies too but I know I will such people when I say that they don’t do much for me. Perhaps it’s because mine are somewhat neglected and need a bit of TLC to set them straight again.

Jean 13/07/2015 - 2:54 am

They are beautiful. But I agree that the lack of fragrance is disappointing. I feel as though lilies, like roses and peonies, are put on earth to smell delicious.

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:35 pm

Hello Jean, I was disappointed with the lack of smell too. There isn’t even the slightest whiff. I know some people who can’t stand the smell of lilies as it can be overwhelming, these lilies are for them.

casa mariposa 13/07/2015 - 3:56 am

What a show! I love a happy surprise and these definitely qualify. I agree with Jean. All lilies should be fragrant. 🙂

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:36 pm

Hello Tammy, I’m with you there – they should be fragrant and each time I go past them I have to stop myself from sniffing them. I am planing for a larger area with highly scented lilies to make up for it though.

gardeninacity 13/07/2015 - 4:49 pm

They look like Asiatic lilies to me, which usually don’t have any fragrance. Luckily the two varieties in your “mix’ are both strikingly beautiful.

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:38 pm

Hello Jason, there is one branch of lilies that don’t smell and Asiatics sound familiar. It is a good job that the two varieties in the mix go so well together considering all the possible combinations that would have clashed or just looked wrong. I think I’ll leave them in there for a while as I work on other parts of the garden and just let this little border do its thing.

aberdeen gardening 13/07/2015 - 5:46 pm

Sunil, Yes, they are indeed Asiatics, true enough they dont have the fragrance like some of the others, but they are very dependable and I like the pairing of those two. If you want more reliable Asiatics in your garden, check out the Pearl series (fantastic)

Sunil 13/07/2015 - 8:40 pm

Hello Alistair, thanks for the tip, I’ll take a look at the “Pearl” series, but I’m always going to go for scented lilies over non-scented ones. Still, if I find a gem in there I may just be tempted to pop a few in here and there among the fragrant ones.


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