Monday, September 08, 2008

The Wandering Toad

Toad lilies (tricyrtis) as a group have a reputation for being a little fussy, at least in the harsher midwest type of climate, with its hot, dry summers and frigid winters often with poor snow cover. Then there is Tricyrtis dilatata (macropoda) from eastern Aisia. It's fairly attractive, with wide leaves, and flowers that are white with bright pinkish red spots; the flowers are held in upright clusters on fairly long stems, the stems arising from the upper leaf axils as well as terminally; thus there are quite a few flowers in contrast with the lasiocarpa and formosasna types of tricyrtis that I've recently shown... these latter two types having only terminal flower clusters. Dilatata is fairly vigorous and hardy, rapidly forming a good clump, and it blooms early enough (late August-early September here) so that it doesn't get blasted by frosts like many of the toad lilies.
Those are the good features of dilatata; there are then two features that are a little less pleasing. First of all, the flowers in the clusters bloom a few at a time (normally not a bad feature, as it makes for a long bloom season); however the old blooms on dilatata don't drop off quickly. They stay attached for quite a while, slowly turning brown, which greatly detracts from the new blooms. Secondly, once the blooms finally drop off, large seed pods quickly start forming, which further muddle the subsequent flowers. The size and number of these pods also should give one pause, for as they mature, they drop thousands of seeds. The tiny new toad lilies that then start popping up are very cool, with shiny, waxy leaves, and they are easy to pluck up and pot or stick elsewhere in the garden. However, one day you suddenly realize these little seedlings are everywhere; it's rather like that old nightmarish Mickey Mouse cartoon about the multiplying brooms. The seedlings are easy enough to pull up, but new ones just keep popping up. I'm trying to be better about deadheading these plants, but it's rather time consuming. Should you want to stop by for one of these plants, I have several in pots...

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Those are beautiful, and I'd LOVE to relieve you of a pot!! :-) When are you and Liz coming to Fairfield?
ps I just re-read the report by Chris Hallson of Hallson Gardens about the tricyrtis virus. Wow. I'm headed out now, to look at my "stock." All but two of mine are new this year. I know where each of them came from. (Obviously I need to do a little more research on the names of the plants. Guess they aren't all "tricyrtis hirta, are they?!!) ;-)
Shady... we will make it sometime to Fairfield, but it will probably be next summer; I've just been about overwhelmed by everything I need to do out at the nature preserve. I'll save you a pot of dilatata, and I'll see what other toadies have spread out into the paths and need to be dug up.
Thank you, thank you! I look forward to receiving new toadies!! I think I'm going rather bonkers over them! ;-) I can see my little Shining Light from the dining room window! I hope I have something to share with you next summer!
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