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Lilies by Naomi Slade – Book Review

A visually beautiful and well-written exploration into the colourful trumpets of lilies, from large flowers for cutting to smaller, naturalistic forms. Reviewer Jack Wallington is a landscape designer and writer.

by Naomi Slade
Pavilion, £25
ISBN 978-1911663003


I love deep-dive books on specific genera of plants; they’re perhaps my favourite of gardening books because they push gardening knowledge to the very limits. What I want from such books is to gain an in-depth, overall understanding of the plant’s botany and to be inspired by new plants to try in all manner of garden design situations. Lilies by Naomi Slade does all of these things and is the latest in her series of comprehensive plant studies, alongside those on peonies, dahlias, tulips and hydrangeas.

The book is split into three main sections: the history and botany of lilies; a selection of the author’s favourite species and cultivars; and a guide to growing them. Starting with an overview of the history of lilies and their importance throughout humanity’s past, the introduction soon moves on to the botany of the plants themselves, exploring their anatomy and how they are categorised into nine main divisions based on their structure and other features. I must also make special mention of the beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations by Somang Lee that demonstrate quite complicated botanical information very clearly.

Individual plant profiles then celebrate a large array of species and cultivars in all shapes and colours, supported by Georgianna Lane’s sumptuous photography. Each profile states the plant’s use in the garden and includes specific growing information, such as size, preferred soil type and flowering period.

Finally, the section on growing lilies tells you everything you could ever possibly want to know about raising lilies yourself, from propagation to staking and pests. Overall, it’s a beautiful book that will serve as an eye-opener for beginners to flick through for ideas, with all of the detail to help you become an expert in lily growing. Pick it up to choose a new lily or follow all the advice to become a lily pro.