Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tricyrtis Hirta 'Raspberry Mousse'

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!


Roses and Lilacs said...

I had to laugh at your comparison of toad lilies blooming to the fat lady singing;)

They look really nice with the fern foliage for a backdrop.

Gail said...


This is such a beautiful plant...I will have to see how well Empress does and see about adding more. They really are quite different looking plants. Is there a native Tricyrtis?


boran2 said...

These are beautiful flowers and beautiful photos, IVG. Enjoy them. There was ice on my windshield this morning so our flowers are about done for the year.

Shady Gardener said...

Raspberry Mousse was named for its purple blossoms... an apt name. It has done very well for you! I know you're enjoying these blossoms. Whether or not you end up having "that discussion," Fernymoss captures them very well, as he always does with his photographs! ;-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
I'm not quite sure why I came up with the Fat Lady, but it seemed appropriately silly at the moment, I guess.

They look fantastic in amongst ferns and Trilliums ... does that give you any planting ideas? :-) This particular fern is a Leatherwood, one of my favorites.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Gail,
I think you'll be really happy with your Tricyrtis ... just remember the dappled shade, moist conditions and you should hit pay dirt (so to speak). I hope you did amend it with some good organic stuff when you planted it, because it will thank you heartily for it.

I'm certainly no expert (see IABoy for that), but to my knowledge, all Tricyrtis are native to Japan and other parts of Asia (where often found in the mountains). There is no US native that I've heard about ... we're just lucky they like our growing conditions!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2!
Glad you like them ... are you going to add this to the list of new shady plants for Casa Boran? :-) We are certainly enjoying them now, don't worry.

Sorry to hear you've had ice already! ACK, don't look forward to any of that anytime soon! So far so good, but who knows what can happen in October (about 11 years ago we had a big snow on Halloween)!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
It's a colorful one, that's for sure! As I said, it took a while to get established, but it's clearly very happy now.

I'll pass along the compliments on the photos ... those always bring a smile on him.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Hi Iowa! I am out catching up on my blog reading, how have you been? You have perked my interest in several plants, especially the toad lily, I need a fat lady singing in my garden besides myself :).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi there IGW,
Nice to see you pop by again ... it was an unusual summer, no? Take a longer look around, because despite it all, it was a pretty good year in the garden (except the never ending weeds!)

Toad Lilies are a must we think ... hope I've given you some info and inspiration to add a few to your garden. :-)

Kylee said...

I will just HAVE to add this one to the ones I already have! The color and blooms are fabulous!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Kylee, and thanks for stopping by!

Isn't this gorgeous? Especially if you're a fan of the purple range ... but there are very few toad lilies I don't find lovely!

olivia said...

Fantastic pix! Wow ... they're gorgeous! Especially the second full view.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Stop, stop! I can't take it anymore! I don't have room for them all! I want this one! The flowers are so rich and purple! Heeellllpppp....!!!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia,
Glad you liked these! You should have a few of these up there, don't you think, eh?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

LOL, tempting Toad Lilies getting to you? Actually this one (so far) seems to top out at about 1.5 to 2 ft, so it's not huge, and seems to be becoming more common the past few years. I ordered this one on the net though and it was a puny plant to start out.

Come on, you know you lust after the purple, don't you? :-)

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