Nice Lilies, Dumb Location

My Asiatic Lilies are blooming. Mostly bright orange, some yellow, and a couple of magenta. These are the descendants of a naturalizing lily mix I bought from White Flower Farm about eight years ago.

Asiatic Lilies

The hybrid and variety names are long forgotten.

Asiatic Lilies
I privately refer to this one as “Mr. Magenta”.

I like these lilies. The exciting colors grab my attention. Plus orange is one of my favorites. Their height gives them a certain dignity.

asiatic lily july 13

The only thing is, I planted these lilies in a really dumb place. Specifically, around the drip line of my ‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple. When I planted them, the crabapple had not yet replaced the eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) we used to have. Originally, the lilies were planted inside the drip line of the eastern red cedar, which is an even dumber place.

Asiatic Lilies
Asiatic lilies with crabapple, seen from sidewalk.

You don’t need to be told why this is dumb, right? Of course you don’t, but I’ll do it anyway. The biggest reason is that the lilies make it much harder to access the tree for pruning, etc. Lilies are unforgiving if you step on them before they bloom.

Also, it makes the ground under the tree a sort of wasted space, at least for part of the year. Finally, the tops of the lilies tend to get mixed up with the branches of the crab.

Why did I do it? Clearly I was suffering from ADHD (Absolutely Demented Horticultural Design) syndrome, but that condition is now controlled with medication.

I would move these lilies, but a) I don’t think I have available space , and b) as a general policy Judy doesn’t like it when I move things, and this is not the sort of thing I can move without her noticing.

Have you ever been unable to fix your mistake after planting something in a laughably inappropriate spot?

61 Comments on “Nice Lilies, Dumb Location

  1. It looks a great place to me. Good design is a very personal thing.
    I am watching my lilies very carefully for lily beetle. I wonder if it is a problem with you.

  2. Thank you for the chuckle. I’ve never known what I suffer from periodically and now I have a name for it – ADHD (Absolutely Demented Horticultural Design). My problem is phlox. My grandmother loved phlox so I planted several colors so I could look at them and think happy thoughts. Buy…now I have them and their powdery mildew everywhere. 🙂

    • I have some Phlox – the cultivar ‘David’ and one other variety I can’t remember. Luckily powdery mildew has not been a big problem. You can still enjoy the flowers and try to ignore the mildew.

  3. Not to the question, but related, I went to the MO Botanical Gardens yesterday & they had some incredible Asiatic lilies. I was really impressed, it was cheap & beautiful.

  4. How embarrassing (for me, not you). I had to be told why it was a bad place. I quite like them there. Can you prune the tree after you cut back the lilies (you can cut them back about halfway)? Or is that another embarrassing thing I don’t know?

    • Yes, Judy is telling me they should stay where they are. Yes, I will have to wait to prune the tree. It’s just that I see all these suckers and I want to remove them NOW. I’m sure you are right about cutting back the lilies. I generally leave them alone except when I remember to cut off the seed heads.

  5. If it’s any consolation I think they look fabulous there. I’ve been fortunate in only having previous occupants to blame for dumb planting. My own mistakes have either died on me, or been succesfully relocated!

  6. Those colors are fantastic, you shouldn’t move them. Maybe if you limb up the tree a little bit, it might look a little bit better. Just an thought…

  7. They certainly look happy there! I can’t resist cutting my lilies for the house so Ivan see them all the time. Love the ADHD funny. I was just crying last night about my dumb mistakes and now you’ve made it into a funny. Thanks

  8. LOL, I love this new meaning of ADHD. I have a lot of “what was I thinking??” vignettes in the garden. Some I have tried to fix by moving a few things around, but the problems are more fundamental than that. One of the things I find most exciting about my plans for an addition on the front of my house is that it gives me an excuse to scrap almost all of the existing plantings in the front and start over with a clean slate and much more knowledge.

  9. I am not sure what to say other than lilies under a tree is not a bad idea. Maybe when the tree get taller? Pruning happens on crabapple before the lilies break ground in late winter.

    • Yes, I know I should prune the crab in late winter but when I see suckers or other things that need removing I get an itch and get frustrated if I can’t do it right away.

  10. They are so beautiful…

    And in answer to your question…yes, the gigantic cat nip that is taking over the bed…every plant in there is put in back to front…sigh. I see a lot of transplanting next spring.


  11. Judy would never approve of my methods of dealing with problem placement, which are the same as yours- I move the problem. Maybe as Donna suggests- prune early, before the lilies break ground.

  12. I think they look fine there, too, but if they’re really bugging you, rip up more grass and move them to a new bed. Judy will survive. 🙂

    • Honestly … there’s hardly any grass left to rip up. Unless I start seizing parts of the neighbor’s lawn. Hmmm …

  13. Oh Man, this past winter/spring I spent so much time moving stuff around that had been planted in the wrong place. Sometimes you just have to. I still have things to move and changes to make. The lilies are beautiful, especially that orange one. Won’t the crabapple eventually get much taller? Then they will look ok, and won’t interfere with the lower branches.

    • This crab is supposed to get up to 20′ and I’m guessing it’s about 15′ right now. Yes, I think limbing up is probably a good idea.

  14. Thank goodness I can pin my problem areas on ADHD! What is the recommended medication? (Please say red wine.)

    I think it looks lovely, regardless of the pruning hazards. Orange is the best!

  15. I’ve made plenty of those mistakes, sometimes I can live with them other times if they bother me enough I move the plant or just pull it out all together. A garden is always a work in progress after all. Enjoy your lilies!

  16. Mistakes are a good thing, because that is how we learn to read the labels and think before we plant. We’ve all made them and I’ve made some that I wish I could forget.

  17. Oh, I don’t know. I plant things in laughably inappropriate spots all the time. In fact, it is sort of what I’m known for! Anyway, I love those lilies, no matter where they are located.

  18. My orienpets ‘Satisfaction’ love being under my apple tree! I had a yellow Asiatic there, too, and have moved it out of there…twice. More bulblet babies keep coming up. You never really “move” lilies. BTW, I thought ADHD was cured with lots of coffee and more trips to the garden center!

      • Yes, very, almost overwhelming. Van Engelen has a nice selection, including ‘Satisfaction’ which looks exactly like its photo. It is so unique it is easy to spot and identify anywhere, by smell and look.

  19. I am always moving things that are inappropriately planted. ha… Isn’t that gardening? I am sure Judy will realize you have done a good thing after the lilies are moved, thinned and look brilliant in their new situ.

  20. I’ve never met a lily I didnt like! I would just trim up the bottom limbs in early spring and let the lilies have their way, or dig up the lilies and send them to your readers – I’m just saying….

  21. I don’t subscribe to your assumption that the lilies are in a dumb place, and anyway, pruning is best done in fall or just after bloom, right? So the lilies serve to keep you from making another gardening “mistake”. The tree will get bigger and you’ll gradually prune it upward, allowing the lilies to shine even more: win-win!

  22. I am sure we have all had to plants in the wrong spot. Sometimes we have no choice when we are somewhere and we find a ‘gotta have it” plant. Then we come home and have no clue where to out it. Sometimes we don’t know it was the wrong place until after the fact.

  23. Hi Jason, Your lilies look very cheerful, and don’t seem to mind their location. I see you got some other encouragement to leave them there, but didn’t read all of the comments. How cool you got to go to the fling. I enjoyed your photos from that, too.

  24. Planting in the wrong place? Moving plants? I really don’t know what you are talking about….
    No joke, that is a lovely corner of your garden, I wouldn’t touch it anyway. Everything looks just in place, I wouldn’t bother about it.

  25. Hi Jason, I have a couple of lilies like your Mr. Magenta and red/orange one but they’re not doing so well as our soil is too alkaline. They’re not fragrant either, which is a bit of a let down but the colour is stunning, especially when they catch the sunlight. There’s not a single sign of lily beetle damage among your plants either! What’s your secret!?

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