Lilium martagon

The Turk’s-cap lily is not one of those dramatic lilies with shouting trumpets, but is one of the best for naturalizing if you have a bed of good, deep soil with a few small trees or tall shrubs to provide shade and shelter – the nearest most of us can get to that desirable ‘open woodland’. It comes from eastern Europe, grows to about 4 feet (1.2 m) with whorls of leaves up the stalk and small, pinkish-purple spotted flowers with petals so sharply recurved that there is some resemblance to a turban. It is very hardy and will increase in time – it is not one of those unfaithful lilies which seem to be doing so well and then suddenly disappear to cries of ‘It must be a virus’. It will grow in sun or part shade in good well-drained soil, with or without lime. The bulbs should be planted in groups 4 inches (10 cm) deep and 9 inches (23 cm) apart.

It flowers in mid-summer and looks well with woodland plants such as fox-gloves and ferns. There is a lovely white form, ‘Album’, which enhances the pink lilies if the two are grown together.

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