Foliage Friday or Flower Friday?

Trilliums tend not to last in my yard. Neighbours north, west, east and south of me have woodlands bursting with them every spring and several times they have gifted me a bucket with a few of the flowers, dug deep with ample clods of dirt surrounding the deep rhizome-root. They survive for a few years, but the blooms get smaller and smaller each year, until they stop flowering altogether. Heavy sigh….perhaps my woods are a bit higher and drier than my neighbours, perhaps I have a ‘younger’ woodlot, without the benefit of many decades of rotting leaves. This is sad, since the classic white Trillium – T. grandiflorum – is not only native to Ontario but has been the province’s official flower since 1937, and is truly gorgeous. (Here’s a great article with myths and facts about Trilliums.)

I do; however, have a small patch of another variety that has survived the 20-odd years I’ve been gardening here in Prince Edward County. I think this is T. cuneatum (common names are Sweet Betsy or Toad Trillium) – not native to Ontario BUT it survives in my garden! Originally purchased at a small garden centre, I brought it here from our former backyard in Toronto, and in those 20 years it has gone from one flower stalk to three. Unlike other Trilliums, the petals never open very wide, even in warm sunshine. Two things about this spring ephemeral has me anticipating its arrival every spring:

  1. the beautiful maroon colour of its flower, like a lovely sip of Merlot
  2. the gorgeous mottling of the leaves, like a richly stitched piece of upholstery


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