Thursday, May 15, 2008

Great Flowers Come in Threes: Trillium!

Trillium is a plant we only acquired a mere two years ago, when we found out that we had been under the mistaken impression that they were extremely rare ... Then we saw them for sale at one of our favorite early spring garden haunts and we snapped all two of them up without even thinking.

So out they went amongst the other shade lovers in our Woodland Garden, nestled among the maidenhair ferns and leatherwoods, not far from the toad lilies. Last year we were fortunate enough to find one more (same place) along with a tiny jack in the pulpit, which is now blooming not far from this clump. Initially, we fretted quite a bit at how they'd
do in our woodland planting, but the first year they didn't bloom, but held their own till the hotter months of the summer before disappearing. Last year, even with all the horrible spring cold, they came back vigorously and rewarded us with blooms!

This year we've apparently hit the jackpot ... because not only did the original ones re-emerge happy as can be, but they brought a couple of new ones along to join the family! Now we're not fretting anymore, just thrilled and encouraged by how well they've taken up residence with some of their ferny neighbors, toad lilies and hellebores ... so we're hopeful that they'll keep multiplying in future years and develop a nice drift of them eventually, much as I imagine they do in the wild.

I'm still learning the basics about Trillium though I do know that there are 40-50 species, most of which are North American natives, and that in most states where they grow in the wild it's illegal to pick or take them from the wild. That's a good thing, because a Trillium once picked is basically a dead Trillium, and if the plant does manage to survive such an affront, it may take years to recover. Fortunately though, nurseries are now propagating them from seed and offering them to the public, which thankfully is how we got ours. I've read that nursery bred specimens are notoriously unreliable as to what species you're actually getting ... at this point we don't care much about that, because we're just contented to have a happy grouping growing for us. We'd like to get one of the Trillium erectum or 'Red Wake Robin' species but haven't found one yet. The red one is (aside from the color) of special interest to us because it's one of the Pedeceled Trilliums, meaning that the flower appears on a slim stem above the leaves. Ours is Trillium luteum as far as I can determine, one of the other group of bloomers known as Sessile Trilliums because their flowers emerge directly from the center of the plant. One of the things we find the coolest about this Sessile species is that it emerges practically ready to bloom ... once the plant has unfurled its leaves the bud is clearly prominent and takes a couple of weeks to open fully. The differences in lighting in these shots (one sunny day, one very cloudy) really show how the light can affect their appearance ... the first one was the very cloudy day late in the afternoon when there was a tiny bit of sun trying to break through, whereas the other two were taken earlier on a fairly sunny day ....

One more thing (so Olivia doesn't have to remind me!) ... The Great White Trillium is the Official State Flower of the Province of Ontario ... lucky Canadians (once again)!

Photos taken by Fernymoss on 26 April, (shots two and three) and 13 May, 2008 (first shot).

It's a good thing my credit cards are downstairs right now, because I did a bit more clicking around and this company, American Meadows, has the 'Red Wake Robin' for sale! Though I expect we'll probably be ordering some soon ....!


olivia said...

LOL IVG ... :D

I love the pattern on the leaves of your trillium - they're really striking before they even flower!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Olivia, had to pre-empt you there, lol. They're actually state flowers in a few states out east as well ...

We really like that foliage too and it's nice to have around even when they're not blooming ... lordy, what were you doing up at that hour?? Even I was well asleep at that point! hehe

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Ohhhhhhhhhh, I love the fern shot! It was be a beautiful painting, wouldn't it?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there IGW! It would make a nice subject, I agree ... we just love all the interesting changes ferns go through during the season, but I'm probably partial to enjoying them when they first come up, all gnarly and hairy fronds ... or the impossibly thin first fronds of the Maidenhairs... We think a garden without at least some ferns is somehow lacking....

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