Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Some choice woodlanders

Triosteum pinnatifidum
In the back border mentioned on Sunday is a small, slightly raised bed of humus-rich compost in which I grow a few (or perhaps too many, depending on your point of view) choice plants that need a slightly damper, and slightly less calcareous spot than they'd get in the open ground. These are a few things looking good there at the moment.

Triosteum pinnatifidum is a Chinese species of a small genus found in both North America and Asia, belonging to the Caprifoliaceae. This isn't very evident at first glimpse, but the small flowers are tubular, and the fruits are large and fleshy, so the similarities to Lonicera, for example, are somewhat evident to the botanical eye. The flowers are insignificant and at this time of year best overlooked, and although the white fruits are attractive later on, it's the foliage that is the finest thing about the plant. The leaves are in two pairs, at right angles to each other, at the top of the shoot. They are quite strongly hairy, deeply lobed in the upper half, and have bright red veins: I think they provide some of the most striking foliage in the garden.

Trillium erectum  f. albiflorum
The others are much more familiar American woodlanders, all found in the rich woodlands of the eastern states. Trillium erectum is usually deep purplish red, but there is also a white form, forma albiflorum, which retains the dark ovary. Both are developing into nice clumps. Polygonatum pubescens was grown from seed I collected on Mont Orford, near Montreal, in 2002. It took years to get to flowering size, building up very slowly from season to season. After all that it is by no means the most spectacular of solomon's seals, but has demure charm. The pubescence of its name is visible on the under-surface of the leaves, while in Cypripedium pubescens there is a tuft of hairs at the base of the twisted lateral petals.

Trillium erectum

Polygonatum pubescens

Cypripedium pubescens

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