Parkhead Gardens

discover Perthshire's hidden beauty

National Collection

As the tail-enders come into flower, seeing Marie North (named after Dr, C. North’s wife) open out her tepals, reminds me why I fell under the spell of Mylnefield Lilies, as she has to be one of the finest ladies.


The last to flower are in fact some of the first series, The Gods, ‘Achilles,’ ‘Orestes, and ‘Phoebus‘. So, as the flowering season draws to a close it gives me time to reflect on my first year as a National Collection holder. I will draw a veil over this summer's weather as we did not get one, and it caused immense difficulties to all lily growers. Despite that, it has been a very rewarding and eventful time for me.

All the North’s have put on growth, almost all have put on a show of flowers, and my stock has increased. I managed to add to the collection with the purchase  of ‘Iona’, from ‘The  Lily Garden ‘, owned by Judith Freeman in Vancouver. I also bought many of the children of ‘Ariadne’ (as I refer to them)  as Judith uses it as a parent plant to develop many lovely new varieties. The North American Lily Society are devoted growers of North Hybrids and I have made contact with a few of them. On a trip out to family in Canada this October, we plan to meet up. 

I have not given up on the four cultivars that are still missing from the collection, maybe they are out there. ‘Adonis’, ‘Eureka’ ‘Invergowrie' and ‘Pandora’( North).

Dr Peter Waister has handed on Dr North's development notes that he saved from the rubbish bin, along with much of the correspondence there was regarding the distribution of the lilies to interested parties. The Lily Group purchased hundreds of bulbs then went on to select those that were later registered as the ‘North Ladies’.

I was given a contact number for the owners of Dr North’s former home in Knapp.  I was told they rented it out and that shamefully they had done nothing to the garden, which I thought would be great as there just might be a hidden treasure. Big disappointment, after fighting my way through ‘the jungle', I came home very sad. To think of how it was and the state it has been reduced to.

On a brighter note, I was  telephoned by a young man who told me he was to marry Hannah North and did I have any lilies they could have for the big day. I decided to take along a few flowering pots and set up a display in the Church hall where the reception was being held. I then discovered they have a fourteen month old daughter called Rosie, Dr North’s great grand-daughter.
For some time I have been  thinking of registering a numbered cultivar that Dr Peter Waister gave me. I found it mentioned in the correspondence dated 1983, as 'performing well, vigorous, of healthy appearance’. It has dark red flowers with waxy tepals, is a  Lankongense Hybrid, with the appearance of an Asiatic. All it needed was a name. So, you know what’s coming next, ‘Rosie North’! To the delight of her parents and I hope the approval of Dr. North. The application for registration will be handed over to the International Registrar for cultivated plants (including Clematis and Lily) Duncan Donald, on completion in a few weeks time, he has all ready approved of the name.

All that remains to be done is compile a report and inventory of the collection to submit it to the Plant Heritage committee. I need to turn out all the lilies from their pots, clean, divide, then re-pot with fresh compost. Then I can sit back and look forward to next seasons floral display. 

This was written for an article that was published in the R.H.S. Lily Group Newsletter, Autumn 2012. Just before publication I was able to add that my application for Registration had been accepted: 

"On the 28th August 2012 , 'Rosie North 1(a/b-c)' was registered on the International Lily Register database, and will be published in the 4th Lily Supplement due out this Autumn." 

I was delighted with the Registrar Duncan Donald’s addition to the description: 

"Its epithet continues the tradition of naming Dr North’s hybrids after female members of his family and alludes to his great grand-daughter Rosie."

In October 2012, I met up with members of the North American Lily Society at the Botanic Gardens in Burlington, to discover they grow L. Adonis, one of  my missing cultivars, so I have contacted them in the hope of being able to purchase some. Adonis received an Award of Merit and Reginald Cory Cup from the R.H.S. as the best man-made ornamental plant in 1973, so it is especially important to my collection.