Entries in trillium (2)


The Magic of Trilliums

Half of my woodland garden came into being because of a patch of trilliums. Eight years ago I discovered trilliums growing near a "dog trot" trampled through the weeds in an area adjacent to the woodland garden. Well, now. Trilliums are pretty special. Before the year was over, I had widened the trail into a real path so that I could easily access those trilliums. I connected the path to the main woodland garden and started adding ferns, native azaleas, Japanese maples, camellias, and all sorts of other woodland plants to the space. Eventually I created a new sitting area and had an enormous "sitting rock" hauled in as a focal point. All because of a patch of trilliums... 

Trilliums are rhizomatous, deciduous perennials native to North America. They grow in deep to partial shade in well-drained, loamy soil high in organic matter. There are over 30 different species. They all have a whorl of three leaves from which arises a solitary, three-petaled flower. The leaves and flower colors will vary by species. They are often described as spring ephemerals, meaning that they come up each spring, then quickly bloom and produce seed. By mid-summer the leaves have withered, and only the unseen underground parts remain. The seeds produce small fruits that attract ants. The ants help to spread the trillium seeds by carrying the fruits to their nest. They eat the fruits but discard the seeds as trash. If the soil is suitable, the seed will germinate.

Trillium cuneatum, also called Toadshade, the wood lily or Sweet Betsy, grows wild on my property.

This trillium is native to the southeastern US. I love its maroon flowers, as well as its variegated leaves and striking maroon stems. However, trillium "leaves" are actually bracts supporting the flower, and the "stem" is actually an extension of the horizontal, underground rhizome.

One should never pick trilliums. Some trilliums are endangered, and picking may be illegal. If the leaf-like bracts are picked, the trillium is unable to produce food for next year, and it will die. Always purchase nursery-raised trilliums from reputable garden shops. They should never be dug from the wild.

I think the best way to enjoy trilliums is use them as an excuse to take a nature walk with friends and relatives and to photograph them!


You may also enjoy reading my older post about how I began this part of my woodland garden:  A New Woodland Path


Early Spring, 2015

It happens every year, but I greet the arrival of spring with the delight of an infant who has never seen a blossom before. The garden is awakening. I wander along damp mossy paths, smiling at each swelling flower bud and each lime-green leaf that unfurls. The light is gentle, the breeze is energizing, and the air is filled with chirps and chatters and trills and calls. There is a mockingbird in a tree, and his incessant happy song declares the wonders of season. 

Many limbs and branches are still bare, and on a rainy day the land looks as cheerless as any winter day; but not for long, as every morning adds new color to the landscape. Forsythia was late blooming this year, put off by freezes, but at last it opened its cheery yellow bells:

Chaenomeles, or flowering quince, bloomed through the hard freezes and continues to be beautiful:

Corylopsis spicata, called winterhazel, is a plant in the witch hazel family, or Hamamelidaceae. Its clusters of yellow flowers hang on bare branches and glow like little lanterns:Fothergilla is one of my favorite native shrubs. I recently planted several new ones near the base of some river birch trees. This variety is called 'Redneck Nation,' after Fred Nation, the botanist who found it growing in south Alabama. My new shrubs look sparse now, but they will soon grow and be filled with foliage. The fragrant, white bottlebrush blooms are just beginning to open:

My daffodils were a bit disappointing this year. They bloomed just in time to be hit by severe frost, then weeks of rain. They lay low to the ground during most of this time, but bravely stood tall when the sun was shining:

These trilliums grow wild in my woodland garden. The deep maroon petals in the center have not yet opened:

Hepatica nobilis, also called liverwort, is a beautiful woodland wildflower. I planted these next to a path, so I can appreciate its small, delicate blooms:

Another spring wildflower in my woodland garden is Sanguinaria, also called bloodroot. It has taken a long time to become established; the first couple of years I thought it had died! I am glad to see several blooms this year. It is shown on the upper right in this collage of spring bloomers:Clockwise from upper left: Sanguinaria, also called bloodroot; Grape Hyacinths; Pieris japonica, also called andromeda; Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'; Leucojum aestivum, also called summer snowflake, although it blooms in spring; Magnolia 'Jane.'I am just as pleased with beautiful foliage as I am with flowers. Strawberry begonia and Heucerella 'Alabama Sunrise' are two new additions to my woodland garden: Strawberry begonia is a vigorous ground cover.

Heucerella 'Alabama Sunrise' is a cross between Heuchera and Tierella. Throughout the year, life continues in the decaying crevices of Stump World:

On a fallen log I find a surprisingly beautiful arrangement of lichens, which have flourished in abundant rain:

As day's end approaches, I find these blooms silhouetted against the sky:

The woods still look bare in evening's glow, but tomorrow more buds will open and more color will show. Spring is here!