As this week's parade of Toad Lilies continues, I thought I'd follow up 'Raspberry Mousse' with one of its neighbors, 'Amethystina.' Both of these plants originally came with that Park Seed order I mentioned in the previous post, and like 'Mousse,' it was in pretty pathetic condition when it got planted in the fall (along with the bulbs). This one has grown a bit faster than 'Mousse' did, but I'd say that both have really lept into their own territory this year. 'Amethystina' seems a bit stingier with its number of blooms compared to 'Mousse,' but each one has its own particular unique look and charm. It's easy to see how it got its name when you take a look at those developing buds in the right foreground ... in addition to confirming its definite hirta species, they also hint heavily at what's coming with respect to the eventual flower ... this is purple at its richest! (Well, I am biased in that direction.)
I'm quite fond of this particular cultivar for the subtle range and variations of color that it displays ... from deep pink to fuschia and purple ... 'Amethystina' does share the one constant feature (at least for those we grow) of Tricyrtis, the inner ring of yellow dotted with blotches of the principal color. Look back on all of the specimens I have posted recently and you'll see that this is the one thing that links them all to the same basic species. Aside from that, the various Tricyrtis cultivars vary wildly in color....
But there's another aspect of Tricyrtis common to all varieties, which is their brazen exhibitionist tendencies. Yes, I'm venturing into PetAL pR0n territory here by broaching the subject, but honestly, these flowers really lay it all out on display with regard to the purely sexual function of all flowers. Tricyrtis is unabashedly up front about why its flowers are there ... they are meant to further the species even more, and if the show comes in the form of a beautiful bloom, so much the better. They just don't make you look for it by hiding all the inner parts among profuse petals, no ... they just let it all hang out for all to see! I think it's a bit of a pity after all, because as far as I know, all the varieties we have planted are hybrids, thus sterile, and any seed they might happen to produce most likely would not germinate (or be true to the parent if it did). All that work at getting gussied up for the big party ... yet unable to really carry through on consummating the act to produce more progeny ... I would bet they know how altered animals must feel about that particular issue.
But happily for the gardeners who fancy them, they do propagate naturally by offsets from the base of the plant, and when happy, will colonize freely where they are planted, thus increasing in size and scope over the years. A while back I mentioned how our 'Gilt Edge' (a Formosana variety) has been happily sending out new plants by offshoots in just a scant year since it was planted. Of all our Tricyrtis, it seems to be the most aggressive about colonizing ... though how one could quibble with a Toad Lily becoming an aggressive spreader is far beyond my comprehension. I'm just tickled purple!