The lily genus provide the gardener with some of the most exotic flowers that can be grown in temperate gardens. They are probably second only to roses as the plants with the most significance throughout gardening history.
They are bulbous plants, producing unbranched, upright stems. The flowers can be trumpet shaped, bow shaped, funnel-shaped, or the decorative turkscap where the petals arch back on themselves (recurved). Apart from blue most colours are available in one or other of the innumerable hybrids.
For convenience and exhibition purposes lilies are classified into nine groups or divisions depending on their origins and shapes.
Fortunately most lilies are grown in the same way. They are generally planted in autumn in a hole whose depth is three times the height of the bulb. They will grow in most soils as long as they are well drained and have had a reasonable amount of well-rotted organic material added to them.
They will tolerate full sun but prefer to have the base of the plant in shade. If they are planted amongst other plants this is usually easy to provide. As well as growing in herbaceous and mixed borders, they also look well in amongst shrubs as long as the shade is not too dense. Propagation can be from seed (sow fresh), bulbils or offsets from the bulb.