This bewitching lily, Lilium nepalense, sweetly scented and with a strong maroon flush inside its recurved trumpets, has a reputation for being difficult to grow. I didn't even attempt it until a few years ago, but when my new raised bed was finished, it was one of the species I was determined to crack. Excitingly, as I write, the flower buds are swelling for the third successive year.

The secret seems to be a well-drained but moist acid soil (in my case, equal parts soil-based ericaceous compost, shredded pine bark and lime-free grit), part shade and a generous root run, for this lily sends out wandering underground shoots. The bulbs are tiny, and you can't believe they can produce flowers of the size they do. I was advised to protect them from excess winter cold and wet under a mound of chipped bark, but last year I forgot and they are still fine. Z5.

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