This entry from the pantheon of Toad Lilies currently in bloom turned out to be a bit of a surprise, though it took a few years! I got this particular plant (and our 'Amethystina') from Park Seeds about 5 years ago in one of our bulb orders, and honestly when the plants arrived, they were so light starved, tiny and pathetic we didn't really think they had much of a chance of survival because they were fall planted. In fact, the first couple of years, we were convinced they had died off and just gave up on them, vowing that any future Tricyrtis would be spring planted. But a couple of years ago, we found them again, still pretty small, but alive! We had a few blooms sporadically before this year, where amazingly, they just shot out of the ground and reached about 2 feet or so and now are positively covered with blooms. They make a wonderful addition to the other Tricyrtis in the area, and despite the obviously 'studied' make up of this hybrid, I do think they are quite striking in the depth of color they exhibit. Of course, with me being a fan of most things purple, I'm delighted this one finally decided to take off for us ... so let's look at this series of shots that show them in their natural element.
Here you can get a better view and impression of what a mature bloom stalk looks like ... this one is just loaded with blooms all along the stalk, which makes for an impressive sight when just discovering this bit of 'Raspberry Mousse' among the neighboring Leatherwood ferns. We think they look perfectly at home in this context, and I'm pretty certain that the ferns help give them a bit of shade in the hottest part of summer and also help keep the moisture levels up in this particular area. (Just for orientation, they are planted among the ferns, Trilliums and Arisaema very near the house in the Woodland Garden.) Apparently this is Toad Lily Shangri La for the four specimens we have planted there, because all of them are blooming spectacularly this year ... so I guess we chose right the first time and found the magic spot, and if we had a bit more space, I'd like to put in a few more, but things are getting a bit crowded at this point.
That's one reason I've been trying out 'Gilt Edge' in a different spot by the front steps where it is positively thriving in its second year here. I've been scoping out a few other shady spots near the house where I could plant future Tricyrtis finds, and have some in mind should I find a must have specimen next spring. I'm sure Fernymoss would be thinking something along the lines of Ok, first it was hibiscus, now it's toad lilies! and he'll give me the perfunctory Where's it going to go? reaction. Such is the dilemma of the gardener hopelessly enchanted by the wily Tricyrtis ways ... at least I can always retort, Well, you're the one who originally wanted to plant these! But I'm actually much more pragmatic and this year I didn't buy a single Toad Lily ... I'm holding out for some of the more exotic ones, so until that happens, that conversation probably won't take place.
Finally, here we have a wider shot that gets most of this bloom stalk into the frame ... so you can see just how densely packed these blooms can get over time, and providing a bit more context should help you visualize how they look in the larger scheme of the ferns and other plants nearby. I'm not sure how well this might approximate their native climes in Asia (from whence they came), but for our Woodland Garden purposes, this planting works just fine for us! Splashes of purple amongst the ferns and violets always look especially attractive when everything else is winding down for the season in early Fall, so we look forward to the show every year around this time. I guess I could put it this way ... the Toad Lilies are a bit like the fabled 'Fat Lady' because when they're done blooming, Winter is just around the corner, but while the song lasts, we certainly enjoy every moment of it!