June 10, 2010

Martagon Lilies

Martagon lilies are beloved by all lily growers, the only problem is that they are not the easiest lily to grow. Preferring cool temperatures, good drainage that also remains moist ( the great enigma), Martagons can be grown if one sites them well. For us here in central Massachusetts, it may mean planting the bulbs in a raised wall rock garden, where winter moisture sweeps away, and the bulbs can sleep peacefully. It's not the cold, for they prefer the Canadian garden, if not the Pacific North West ( but then, what doesn't?). 
This variety is the classic 'Mrs' R.O. Backhouse' , a lily hybrid (Lilium martagon x Lilium hansonii), and winner of the Award of Garden Merit. It's an old 1921 introduction from England's Robert Ormston Backhouse, who liked the selection so much, he named it for his wife, Sarah Elizabeth. It can grow tall, but these are newish bulbs, planted a couple of years ago after buying seeding bulbs from Plant Delight's Nursery, they take some time to settle in. 
Downfacing lilies have fallen out of favor, but if you want the 'look' of downfacing Martagon's, without the fuss, try some downfacing Asiastic lilies. More on those, soon.
These bulbs I planted two years  ago, and last year they had only a couple of flowers, as they set in. Hopefully, they will mature to massively tall and stately plants in a couple more years, or, they may simply fade away.


  1. Matt:
    A wonderful selection indeed. I hope that you will be rewarded handsomely in the coming years! I have the 'plain pink one' but never seem to see it once the other residents of the Shaded Walk burst forth. I think I shall have to remedy that problem.....

  2. Matt, I love them too, I was lucky this year to get a "Mrs. R.O. Backhouse" mixed in a group of other Martagons...I asked the nurseryman, and he had no idea what it was, the rest of the bulbs were Dutch.Thanks for clearing that up, now if it will only live!

  3. Gorgeous, but sound a little persnickity :)


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