It is the second year of the Eremurus or Foxtail Lily plant trial at Bishop Burton College and they are now in full flower and showing a stunning display. The recent weather conditions have suited Eremurus well. They need winter cold to induce flowering and the flowering stems are now enjoying the hot and dry conditions that they would experience in their natural habitat of Western and Central Asia.

During the trial, the spent flower heads need to be left on to assess the value of the seedheads. As a result of this the Eremurus have seeded themselves all over the trial garden. We have needed to weed out the ones in the beds to prevent them competing with the plants. But we have left a few in here and there and we have potted some up so it will be interesting to see what happens. How many years will it be before these seedlings will produce flowers?

If you are fortunate enough to have a large garden with long borders and are looking for an eye-catcher, "Joanna" is definately a good choice. Some of the flower spikes have reached very impressive heights of up to nine feet. This variety also has strong stems and they support themselves well - no staking required.

The star of the show for me this year so far has been a variety called "Oase". It is a small to medium variety with the tallest flower spike measuring five feet 4 inches tall. The petals are a creamy white colour but at the centre of the flower is a strong yellow colour. It gives the flowers the appearance of a lovely soft pale yellow colour, quite unlike any of the other Eremurus on the trial. Oase didn't produce any flowers at all on the first year of the trial and out of the ten plants that I planted, only half of them have flowered this year. It is not the most reliable variety but it certainly has a nice flower and it is one that I would grow again.

If you are thinking of growing Eremurus, the most important thing to consider is drainage. They like sandy well drained soil and it is a good idea to plant them on a bed of horticultural grit. It is quite likely that not all of them will flower, at least for the first year, so I would recommend that they are planted in groups of five or more. Once they have established themselves they can be divided after flowering.

P.S. There is some confusion with Eremurus "Oase". According to the RHS, "Oase" has pale pink flowers and the ones we have are pale yellow. It appears that they are labelled incorrectly. Apologies for this and I will contact Which? Gardening to let them know and try and sort the problem out.

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