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Graham Rice

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Gold Medal winning lilies

Posted by Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2008 at 06:00 PM

All this week  the multicoloured exhibit of lilies from Wilford Bulbs has brought sunshine to a very soggy show and now the rain has passed us by for a change it still gleams brightly. But I was struck by something unexpected: there were very few familiar varieties on show. A quick check in the RHS Plant Finder revealed that almost none of them were listed! So this was a whole exhibit of lilies most of which were available from no one in the RHS Plant Finder.

And they varied from the startlingly flamboyant to more demure and discreet varieties. ‘Aktiva’ has pink flowers with delicate spotting towards the throat and pale edge while ‘Nuance’ has huge white flowers with a pink streak in each petal. Others include ‘Shocking’ and ‘Tiber’ while some like ‘Aukland’ and ‘Kabona’ have never been in the RHS Plant Finder. But Pam Cross of Wilford Bulbs pointed out that such large flowers of varieties like ‘Nuance' are not necessarily a good thing.

“The breeders keep trying to breed lilies with a large a flower as possible but some lilies have flowers which are far too large to use in most mixed bouquets,” she told me. “And now that breeders are crossing Oriental lilies with Asiatic lilies, the result is an Asiatic lily with scent. But not everyone wants a scented lily, for many people the scent is just too strong.” The very attractive much smaller flowers of  ‘La Reve’ are much

But I was sad to hear from Pam that she and her husband Tony, who founded the nursery 45 years ago, and planning to retire and do what most nurserypeople don’t have time to do – create a garden of their own. So Wilford Bulbs is up for sale and with some great new varieties in the pipeline this is a great opportunity for someone wanting to run a gardening business. Their exhibit, by the way, won a well-deserved Gold Medal. A fitting tribute.

For details of the nursery, click here



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