Honey lilies – A sweet moment in the year

This week the honey lilies (Nectaroscordum siculum) have broken out of their pale papery calyces en masse and are making a wonderful display in our shady front garden.


Before this happened the florets were tightly wrapped in upright bundles and looked rather like candles on an altar.


But now the bell-shaped flowers are free to hang down and spread out as soft green and pink-blushed umbrellas.


And if you look up into the flowers the petals almost look hand-painted with cerise and maroon brush strokes.


With the sun behind them (yes, I am on my knees here), they shine like stained glass windows or murano glass jewellery.


They are even more delectable with rain drops clinging to the petals:



The bumblebees adore them, but I more or less gave up trying to photograph their swift visits to the beautiful bells because I couldn’t get the camera to focus on the bees quickly enough. Here are a couple of slightly out of focus attempts:


Interestingly the bees seem to revisit flowers very quickly, so maybe the nectar replenishes immediately?


Do they have a down side? Well, they are alliums and one of their common names is Sicilian honey garlic, so yes they smell very oniony when brushed or crushed, but mostly you won’t smell this (it is nothing like the strong, unsolicited stink of Imperial lilies for instance!).

If they are happy, they will seed around quite freely, but I don’t mind this. They like damp, shady, woody environments. However, my garden is shady and dry, so there is a lot of leeway in the moisture levels.

Once the flowers are finished the seed cases revert to upright candelabras, which are equally decorative. Right now though I am enjoying the busy, beautiful umbrellas!



About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Flowers, The home garden and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Honey lilies – A sweet moment in the year

  1. Tina says:

    Beautiful photos! I see why you wouldn’t mind their seeding out!

  2. I love these photographs. I shall have to put these on my wish list. 😊

  3. susurrus says:

    Those handpainted patterns inside the flower look almost like a bee or a hummingbird.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    They are lovely – I love your description of the interiors!

  5. Brian Skeys says:

    Great close up of the rain drops. I am waiting for mine to open.

  6. Sam says:

    Gorgeous photos and gorgeous plant. I’d love some in our garden – I’ll give them a go even though it can get very dry here.

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