Over the last few years, gardening friends have been warning me about a garden scourge the seems to be new(ish) to my area. The lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is a pretty red and black beetle that defoliates just about anything in the Lily family, but seems to focus on Asiatics, Fritillaria, Soloman’s Seal, as well as any Lilium.
While the adult is beautifully bright scarlet, also making it very easy to spot, its progeny is a thing of nightmares. It’s a horrible thick blob of a thing that covers itself in its own excrement as a defence against predators and proceeds to eat emerging lily foliage to the ground. Now, I’m not at all squeamish when it comes to creepy crawlies of all types and I have a genuine curiosity about any creature that lives in my garden. As an organic gardener I am definitely not above squishing unwanted pests with my bare hands — it may not be pleasant, but its the safest (and sometimes quickest) method of pest control. But there is just something about a creature that instinctually slathers itself in its own body waste that commands a slow clap and a bow. Well done, lily beetle. Well done. I’ll be coming for you with gloves on, thank-you-very-much.
The theme for this week is fruit. Fruit as a plant part as opposed to fruits such as strawberries and bananas, although you’ll notice some of those, too. It seems that fruit — some edible and some not — is forming in every corner of the garden. Flower diversity is still high, it’s just that many of the flowers are there in the service of forming fruit and are not there to be pretty in their own right.
The Scorched Earth. This is also the first week that marked significant loss and suffering as a result of the intense heat and drought we are experiencing. There are going to be some significant holes in the garden by the time the summer is out. I don’t think I am going to have extra ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds as a result. I inexplicably gave all of my seedlings away but one and that one was in a pot that was cooked during this week’s heat emergency. Drat. The plant went from green and lush to yellow within the span of a single day. It is holding on and could recover if things stay as cooled off as they are now. It’s amazing what one bad day can bring. It’s a good lesson and reminder in how much we should respect our farmers who are at the mercy of whatever insanity the season brings. Amazingly, all of my other tomatoes are perfectly fine.
As you can see from the photo, this week’s garden was dominated by the invasion of the pom-pom flowers. The other major development is the heat. It is absolutely blazing out right now. In fact was already so hot by noon (when I took this photo) that I had to switch out one of my original choices because it started wilting seconds after picking it. I couldn’t keep it happy in the box long enough to take a decent photo!
The highlights of this week are my breadbox poppies, which are treating me every day to a new colour and form, and the cold hardy opuntia that have made me so very, very happy to have chanced into the good fortune of exceptionally well-draining soil that is on the sandy side. This garden is an absolute pain in the butt to water, but the growing possibilities are mind-blowing for someone like me who has a longstanding fixation/fascination with dry land flora. It’s going to be unreal next year when all of the new opuntias I have added are abloom. I may pass out from the sheer joy of it.
I was supposed to post a follow up to my journey above the tree line today; however, we are experiencing a heatwave that has made my office uninhabitable. Instead, to give myself a reprieve from this heat, I am posting a few shots of this gorgeous lily that I took in my garden just before dark yesterday evening.
Lilium auratum ‘Leichtlinii’ is a wild and very cold hardy native of Japan. I bought a small pot containing two bulbs back in early May at the Parkdale Horticultural Society sale. Apparently, this is not an easy plant to find, and I am glad that my friend David managed to talk me into spending $10 on it. At the time I had over-indulged in plant purchases and was hesitant to spend that much on another pretty flower, especially since I didn’t yet have a garden to put it in.
The original inspiration for a smaller, wilder lily came from last summer’s visit to Brian Bixley’s gardens at Lilactree Farm. There I saw two woodland lilies, one white and the other pink, that grow on tall stalks lined with the smallest lily blooms I have ever seen. My blooms are not nearly as tiny, but they are a bit smaller than the typical Asiatic lilies that are popular in this neighbourhood’s front gardens.