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Lilium ‘Original Love’

At the risk of sounding a little, well, unfeminine…… Phwoooooaarrr.

We’ve been watching this one unfurl for the last two weeks like a slow-motion porn film. First the long, fat green buds began to pout and swell. Then they gradually darkened and a deep wine-red stain crept up like a blush. Finally, a few days ago, the first one burst: one petal, then another, then they all peeled back to reveal the most voluptuous, sultry, seductive flower you can possibly imagine. It is almost embarrassing in its suggestiveness: impossible to miss, impossible to ignore, quite possible to fall in love with.

It’s an L.A. Hybrid: I’d always thought that meant they were bred by some fanatical britches-wearing and probably bespectacled American lily-grower in Los Angeles, but in fact it turns out the L stands for longiflorum and the A stands for Asiaticum. Much more proper and with a certain RHS correctness about it. That’ll teach you to get all romantical then.

That gives you a tall (mine’s about 4ft), sturdy, hardy lily that’s pretty much trouble-free: heck, if I can grow it, anyone can. This one hasn’t even suffered the usual attack of the lily beetle. I’ve had to harden my heart against these pretty red bugs so that I could squash them: I had less trouble with their larvae which have the attractive habit of covering themselves in their own excrement as they sit munching your lilies.

At the moment I’m betting that my LA hybrid’s escape has been less to do with their in-built lily beetle resistance and more to do with the fact that I didn’t get around to planting them until late May – by which time the beetles had done their worst to my earlier hardy lilies. I didn’t realise lily beetles had only one generation but it appears to be so, and I’ve murdered the one in my garden. So there.

But anyway. This otherwise ravishing plant does have one downside: in all that hybridising and fiddling about they forgot to leave the scent in (mind you, try telling that to the bees bumbling drunkenly about in its abundant nectar). I have to say, if you’re going to do boudoir, you do need it to be at least a little bit perfumed. However, it’s imperfections that make you perfect, isn’t that what they say? And for such a luscious, seductive, and downright sexy colour I will forgive anything.