Sunday, June 13, 2004

Lend colour with lilies
Satish Narula

AFTER the winter bonanza of colour in the garden, gardeners do not have much variety to choose from in summer. There are the usual gomphrena, gaillardia, kochia, portulaca, zinnia, amaranthus (cock's comb), balsam and sunflower. The garden can, however, be enlivened even in this season with some bulbous plants.

The beauty of these plants is that they are showy and long lasting. Most of these also prove to be good for vase decoration. They flower at a time when the garden is bereft of colour. A judicious combination of shrubs and bulbs can fill the gap. Certain bulbous plants are valued not only for their blooms but also foliage. Caladium is one such example. The beautiful heart-shaped foliage with shades of pink, red and a mix of white and red lasts from March to November. The maranta and calathea are other such plants.

The amaryllis lily is another 'summer king' suited to any location, be it along a wall boundary, a flower bed, pot or even on a windowsill, provided it gets sunlight.

The trumpet shaped flowers appear in the beginning of summer. They appear mostly in clusters of four or in pairs. A bed full of lilies can have a mass effect that can outdo many a landscape feature. It is also suitable for the places that are normally subjected to water stress, like rocky features. Another suitable place for planting them, especially the red variety, is near a white marble statue. This creates an interesting contrast.

Also called the belladonna lily, king or star lily, it has a wide range of colours. The most common are blood red, snow white, pinkish-red, bright scarlet and deep orangish-scarlet. There are white-striped hybrids too.

Another very hardy summer bulbous plant is the zephyranthes lily. It is also known as the windflower and zephyr flower. It has single blooms in shades like sparkling white, yellow or pink, rising over the shining grass-like leaves not more than 10 cm to 15 cm high.