As I've been hinting recently in posts and comments, our Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis sp.) are really taking over the early Fall show in the Woodland Garden ... In fact, this season I've been an incessant cheerleader for these beautiful --indeed magical-- Fall surprises. While most gardeners rely on Chrysanthemums and Asters to bring on the show during the cooler days of Fall, we've been relying more and more (over the past 8 or so years) on the humble Toad Lilies. These simple and unassuming delights don't attract much attention (other than from the cognoscenti) during most of the spring/summer season, but when everything else starts looking really ratty around late September into October, they burst into bloom, and until a heavy frost shuts them down for the year, they just keep up the show until the bitter end.
We can't think of a better shade plant that really pays off for the patience one needs to get it established. We originally started with this variety (I know it's a T. Hirta, but we never knew the variety because the stake in the pot simply stated: Toad Lily, Perennial) and if anyone can positively ID it, please let me know in the comments! I have always suspected that it must be one of the more common varieties given how we acquired this one (it was the only one offered at that particular nursery), but no matter the precise name, it's definitely been a real garden trooper, that just keeps getting bigger and more floriferous every year. (This year it has topped 4 feet in height, with about a 2 foot spread.)
I have to confess that when we first bought this plant (it was all of 2-3 inches tall at the time), I knew absolutely nothing about Toad Lilies, and given its plain aspect, I had no idea what to eventually expect from it ... I just went along with Fernymoss' enthusiasm at finding a specimen, and relied on his "Don't worry, they're really cool!" advice to get it and put it in our (then nascent) shade garden we call the Woodland Garden. It didn't bloom the first year (not unusual for small Tricyrtis plants just getting established), but from the second year on it has been a real performer for us. This particular variety is one I'd definitely recommend to the novice Tricyrtis gardener, because as long as its needs for partial to deep shade and a consistenly moist growing situation are met, I'd say it's practically foolproof! Just plant it in a good spot and be patient, and you'll be rewarded many times over as it increases and colonizes the area over the ensuing years. Oddly enough, of all the Toad Lilies we have in this area, this is always the last to start blooming (and usually the last to die back). Its companions 'Raspberry Mousse,' 'Amethystina,' and the unknown white variety (coming soon here), were ahead of the game and started blooming a few weeks previously to this one. So, at this point we currently have four lovely varieties blooming their hearts out, and it's great to be able to just look out the dining room windows and see such beauties just outside....
Over the course of the next week, I'll be posting examples of our other Toad Lilies, just to show off the amazing variations in color and flower structure this species offers, and if you're anything like most gardeners who suddenly discover success with them, you'll soon be hooked and wanting more and more to tuck into shady spots in the garden. One of the very best resources in Garden Blogland has to be IABoy's collection currently on display over at An Iowa Garden. Of all the gardeners whose blogs I've come to know over the past year or so, he has by far the best Tricyrtis collection and all the requisite wisdom behind it ... if you're not familiar with his blog, it's time to pay him a visit for his marvelous Tricyrtis and all the other amazing shade plants he has in his garden. You'll be happy you did! (And for those already in the know, I suspect you'll back me up on this praise!)
On another tangent, we've been working our way through the first season of Pushing Daisies on DVD, and just finished it on Friday night. I have to give Annie in Austin a big shout out for guiding me in the direction of this positively magical and engaging new series. Thanks, Annie! I'm usually really resistant to getting hooked on new TV series (I've never seen Lost, 24, Grey's Anatomy and the like), but this one is more than worthy of our time and attention (and I haven't given such praise since Six Feet Under premiered in 2001), with its imaginative premise and stunning visual style (at times reminiscent of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie). We haven't watched the Season 2 premiere yet (though I recorded it on the DVR), but are looking forward to taking it in tomorrow night, and I expect equally wonderful results ... I certainly hope that this series has a long and productive arc, because everything up to now certainly points in that direction! If you're not already familiar with the series, give it a shot and see what you think ... you may or may not agree with my effusive praise, but for those who appreciate a series that's way off the beaten track of the usual network reality shows, lawyers and doctors typically offered, it's a wonderful reward for the time spent watching. (BTW, it's on ABC on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. CDT (8:00 EDT) if you need that particular nudge....)