Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Minor Obsession

Toad lilies have been a minor obsession of mine for many years. When they first became available, I think perhaps two species were offered; now a broad array of varieties and species are listed, though this is another of those plants where the same thing may be offered under a couple of different names; apparently the taxonomy of tricyrtis is quite muddled, and it hybridizes so readily that many plants offered as pure species, are not. Most of the toad lilies will grow here, but two species from Taiwan (formosana and lasiocarpa) not surprisingly, usually fail to re-appear in the spring. Unfortunately these are two of the loveliest, most exotic-looking species; hybrids involving them are a mixed bag in terms of hardiness. Basically the more the hybrid resembles its tender parent, the less likely it is to grow here.
A newer hybrid of lasiocarpa is Tricyrtis Taipei Silk, pictured at the top, which carries that wonderful lasiocarpa violet color in the flowers, and the attractive deep green, upright foliage. It is (I hope) at least somewhat growable here. Tricyrtis Blue Wonder shown in the lower picture is said to have some lasiocrpa blood in it, and it grows like a champ here. However, there must not be a lot of lasiocarpa in it; it does have nice upright foliage and somewhat dark green leaves. The flower form doesn't look much like lasiocarpa and the true "blue" color of the flowers I have only seen in catalogues... besides, there is evidence that the heavy, irregular spotting of the flowers is caused by a transmissible virus.
At any rate, on these chilly, misty fall mornings the toad lilies, tucked into nooks and crannies all over the garden, make for a nice garden tour all by themselves.
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I'm another toad aficianado. I've been thinking about 'Tapei Silk,' but I'm concerned that it might not be hardy enough. Has yours made it through a winter?
MMD... dang, I didn't notice until your comment, that I'd called it Thai silk (we're just installing some decorative glass in the dining room that's called "Thai Mango", and I was thinking of that. Anyway, I've only overwintered it once, and it did fine, with just the usual mulch. I'd say it's 50-50 it will make the long haul, from reading other's experiences.
I didn't even notice that you didn't call it 'Tapei Silk.' I guess the combo of the photo & the word "Silk" made my brain register the right name. If it survived an Iowa winter, I think it might be OK for me. Thanks!
I'll see if it makes it through another winter; a lot of the formosanas make it for a couple of years, then disappear, and I tried pure lasiocarpa and it didn't make it.
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