My Rant partner Elizabeth Licata sent me some martagon lily bulbs last fall and told me that they like shade and acid soil. 

I'd forgotten where I planted them, and the foliage of the lilies in the photo above came up in such a compact fashion, I just thought it was something else I'd planted and forgotten: some unfamiliar shade-loving perennial.  I don't think my inability to remember what plants I've stuck in the ground is early-onset Alzheimer's.  I think it's an overloaded mental hard drive, something that happens to working mothers with book projects on the side who buy a lot of plants.

Then, these perfect tiny lilies appeared yesterday.  Wow.  I love the contrast between the rust-colored stamens and the pink/mauve flowers.

These are as pretty as any giant Oriental lily.  Maybe prettier, because more unexpected!


  1. I can never remember what color tulip bulbs I planted in the fall. My husband asked me why I don’t just write it down. I could do that, but then I’d miss out on the surprise I get every Spring. Gardening Alzheimers has its rewards.

  2. I love the memory loss (most of the time) for all the pleasent surprises. In the sprng I run around like a demented spaniel making excited squeeking noises over each “new” discovery.

  3. I’ve always had problems remembering where bulbs are planted from one year to the next. It’s one reason I appreciate hurricane lilies (Lycoris radiata), which bloom here in the fall on naked stems, but the leaves stay through early spring. That way when I plant new spring bulbs, I know I won’t be planting them on top of the hurricane lilies.

    Your lovely lily will not do well here in zone 9, but I just wrote an appreciation of my southern bulbs, “The Calla Lilies are Blooming Again.”

  4. Beautiful, thanks for sharing! We have wild Tiger lilies here in Oregon that are almost exactly like these but bright orange, and every year when they bloom they take me by surprise.

  5. Glad your L. martagon is doing well. Funny how I’ve been taught that they prefer slightly more alkaline soil, but there you go!! But most lilies really prefer slightly acidic soil.

    Isn’t that a charming flower. I have the white form (L. martagon album) that stands out in shade so beautifully.

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