Friday, September 12, 2008

Toad Lily Days Are Here Again!

Long time readers here at Urban Oasis already know that my passion for Tricyrtis rivals only that of Hibiscus moscheutos ... the more I have, the more I have to find and plant, and where Tricyrtis is concerned, there are a dangerously large number of cultivars out there, just waiting to seduce me away from my most recent crush...! Once this fantastical flower casts its spell on a gardener, it's exceedingly difficult to resist getting just one more to add to the collection.

Last year I went on a bit of a spree and planted two new species that caught my eye, one of which was 'Gilt Edge' (which you've seen here previously), and the white one seen later in this post. This year I restrained myself and didn't buy any new ones ... but only because I already had the few that I saw for sale in the spring. So I decided just to spread the news about these remarkable flowers ... so delicate looking, so exotic ... they seem as if they should be some greenhouse diva destined for fussy pampering. The reality, however, is far different, because they are really easy to grow in the shady garden, provided --of course-- that their basic needs are met.

To grow Tricyrtis successfully, you'll need a nice, consistently moist loamy spot with ample organic matter in part to full shade. Once established, you can pretty much just let them do their thing, though if you have dry periods in the height of summer, you may need to water them occasionally (though, as you know, moisture has not been a problem here this year!) Unless you find very large plants, they usually don't bloom their first year, though they will likely begin the second year, and each successive year brings even more stalks clustered with these orchid like blooms ... and the longer you have them, you'll see them start to colonize and stake out their territory --the ultimate reward of growing Tricyrtis!

These first two shots are Tricyrtis amethystina, one we originally planted about four years ago from a sad looking, tiny plant I got via mail order ... it has taken its time to get established, but it's really done well this year and is currently blooming profligately just outside our dining room windows where it shares space with another two species we have nearby. They also grow in the same area with the Trilliums and our lone Arisaema toward the back near the house, where they enjoy protection from the worst of the sun and the sometimes harsh winter conditions of the Woodland Garden.
This second shot is one of the new ones we put in last year, and was identified as 'Miyazaki,' by its stake, but now that I've seen it bloom, I think it was certainly mislabeled, because the pictures I've found of that particular cultivar don't even vaguely resemble this dramatic beauty. But whatever cultivar this is, we're very happy with it and how it has flourished in just one short year (admittedly it was a big plant when I got it, but it didn't bloom last year). So, if anyone out there can give me a positive ID on the species or cultivar, I'd appreciate learning just what it is ... in any case, it makes a lovely companion to the nearby Amethystina and our original (unknown cultivar) which is just now on the cusp of blooming (the one that's about 4 ft tall this year!). I'll be featuring more of these blooms as they progress through the rest of season ... they will bloom right up to frost (and sometimes beyond). That's another feature I've neglected to mention: they are the perfect late summer early fall flower for the fading garden ... when everything else is looking rather ratty and wan, Tricyrtis springs into bloom to cap off the season with its exotic looking sprays of speckled blooms. If for no other reason, every garden should have a Toad Lily or two, just to reassure you that somewhere, the blooming never stops....
Ok folks, it's mystery plant time again! As you can see, it's a very close by neighbor of the previous Toad Lily, nestled in amongst the ferns and now fading Trilliums. I will say that it's a relative of one of our more dramatic exotics of the Woodland Garden, and that it was planted from a bulb we got earlier this season. We're just happy that it put up some foliage this year (it didn't get planted until late June) and hope that it will bloom sometime next summer. I'm sure that this one will be an easy one for regular readers ... so weigh in with your guesses in the comments!

Miscellaneous updates: We're still waiting on the Monarch to emerge from its chrysalis ... we checked last night, and there was little change since the last update, but maybe soon it will happen when/if we get some more consistently warm and sunny weather. It's been a very cool and rainy week here (we had quite a bit of rain come through last night), so we think that's had an effect on its progress.

And I received my just-released copy of The Fall yesterday and we watched it again last night, much to our continued delight and amazement. This film just gets richer and more wondrous with each viewing (we're up to two now), and I can't recommend it highly enough! If you didn't read my previous post about this magnificent film, you can find it here ... it's well worth seeking out and spending a rapturous 117 minutes in its unique and beautiful universe!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi IVG, what elegant blooms. I don't even try to grow them because they need more moisture than I can give them. I certainly do love looking at the photos.

I have no idea what your mystery plant is. On the up side, it doesn't look like a weed. Let us know when you find out.

Gail said...

It is hard to believe that you can be as enchanted with another flower as you are with HM! But after seeing the gorgeous blooms on the Toad Lily it is clear that you could!

The white blooming TL is incredibly lovely! I of course can't even begin to guess which one it is! Is there a huge list of possibilities?

After you and Shady touted their charms, Empress cam home with me! It remains to be seen whether or not this gardener can be a good caretaker and give it the moisture and soil conditions it wants!

Good luck with the id!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
That's too bad you don't have Toad Lily friendly conditions there! It's probably a good thing that ours are so close to the house that they get attention when its dry.

No, that's not a weed, but it is a relative of one of the more 'dramatic' blooms you may have seen here earlier this year. That's all I'll say for now. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Gail,
Oh, it's true! I guess you could say I'm dating Tricyrtis, but have definitely tied the knot with Hibiscus (of all sorts)!

I hope yours do well, and as I mentioned to Marnie, you might try them in a nice shady spot you could amend close to your house. They're easier to see there too!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It's not like Tricyrtis need as much moisture as a Mophead Hydrangea. At least I've found that 'Tojen' takes my stupidly well-drained soil in stride. I'd be afraid to grow it in moist conditions, it might get to be 6 feet tall.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

I have no clue about that hydrangea (we're plant poor and ignorant on that one!), nor do I know which is Tojen, but I'll have to see if you have one posted. That original Tricyrtis we planted has gotten taller and taller every year though!

Aren't they great plants? But addictive ....

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