a french garden

Lilies

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Lilies

The lilies are doing well this year in the garden.  I am seduced by the cheap packs of bulbs I see in the UK after Christmas.  I haven’t really a plan of where they should go.

Pink lily

Its easier to find a place for them in the winter when you have forgotten what other perennials you have planted and it looks as if the place is empty.  I don’t regret squeezing them in as their perfume is mingling with the second flowering of the Wisteria and filling the garden with perfume.  I never see much interesting life on them: the odd spider or fly – certainly no bees!

Dull moth

I was so surprised to see this dull moth sitting on one of the lilies sipping nectar!

not closeThen I saw the orange flash.  I had never seen a hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) at rest on a flower.

This moth had worked out that it could expend much less energy at rest on the lily and still reach the nectar.

Better hover

He still couldn’t resist the odd hover from time to time.

mmm. so good

The moth spent a few minutes on the lily and seemed to be enjoying it as a nectar source.  I had always thought that the lilies either had poor nectar or they were not recognised as nectar sources because they are “exotic”.

What are other gardeners experiences with lilies?  Do you get interesting critters on your lilies (maybe bees :))?

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Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

41 thoughts on “Lilies

  1. I’m afraid the lily beetles ate my few lilies, so I can’t offer any sensible opinion. Interesting photos of insect behaviour, as always.

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  2. I’ve never seen a humming bird hawk moth not hovering so that is very interesting. Some night flying moths were attracted to my Longiflorum -White American Lilies whose perfume was definately stronger at night so must be to attract moths.

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    • That’s very interesting. I keep meaning to try and have a look at night flying moths here but summer is very hectic with the garden and family visits and just other summer things.

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  3. I dont have any lilies in the garden, but do have Hummingbird Hawk Moths – they love the red valerian, and buddlia – and are blinking tricky to photograph!
    I like the contrast of the exotic, colourful interior of the lily and the monotone moth.

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  4. Every year I think I’d like some lillies, and every year we forget to get some!

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  5. I’ve only seen the hummingbird moth in flight. Smart little guy there to do the energy math and decide to land for dinner.

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  6. Beautiful lilies and an interesting visitor 😀

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  7. I’ve spent far too many minutes trying to capture hummingbird hawk moths on the wing… I need some lilies! Lovely photos.

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  8. I seldom see any bug on the lilies, and usually they are flies.

    Nice photos.

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  9. Nice photos! We’ve had the red lily leaf beetle here (Lilioceris lilii.) It’s a European insect that has devastated the lily crop in this area. Since I don’t like to spray I gave up on lilies even though they are one of my favorites.

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    • That is so sad. Another “nasty” invading and spoiling. I believe they are very difficult to control and the best method is to pick them off the plant and squash them after spreading a white cloth under the plant as they drop upside down and you cannot see them on the soil! I do not think there is an effective chemical control.

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  10. I think lilies look beautiful, but I haven’t planted any lilies because the perfume seems to trigger my allergies. However, when I first came to this house there were belldonna lilies already in the garden; remnants of a much older garden that was here before our modern house was built. I didn’t mind them but they seem to have disappeared. Didn’t see them last year anyway. I am curious about the edibility of lilies? Have you ever eaten them? I haven’t been brave enough to try.

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    • I sympathise with your allergy problem, their perfume is very strong. I have daylilies in the garden but I have never tried to eat them. I think the only way I would try them is if I got the bulbs from someone who kept them for eating. I would be too scared to “have a go” at something if I was not positive of its identity. It would be intriguing growing them to eat – they certainly form clumps very quickly.

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  11. Lovely pics – I used to have Lilium martagon and they were quite popular with insects and butterflies and unfortunately with lily beetles too 😦

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    • Just checked Lilium martagon out – it is beautiful! It is also native to eastern France so that could explain its popularity with the insects. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for those.

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  12. I saw a hummingbird hawkmoth the other day but he’d zipped away before I could get my camera. Just lots of lily beetles on my lilies, I’m afraid. Gross creatures. Incidentally, there were no lilies when I started at the Priory and for a year or two I was beetle free. But they tracked me down in the end. Dave

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  13. Terrific pics of the hummingbird hawk moth. I’ve never managed to get one so close / focused. And lovely lilies. Cheapo packs of bulbs have their place – a bit hit and miss, but what comes up is often a nice surprise…

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  14. I love lillies — such exotic colors and wonderful perfume. Nothing (insects, that is) seems to pay much attention to my lillies, so I am impressed that you had a HB hawkmoth that actually sat still. They usually dart here and there, keeping themselves out of focus of my lens. Nice work!

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  15. Spectacular photographs. I’ve just moved and brought some of my lilies with me. Now I’m trying to figure out where to plant them.

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  16. My lilies are superb this year. I have never seen a Humming Bird Hawk moth settle, they always seem to be on the wing!

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  17. Amelia I love the shot of his curled proboscis!

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  18. I have to go out and study my lilies, but they are old and simple ones. Now it is raining, so probably nobody there. Interesting as always.

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