Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don't Judge A Plant By Its Name

Tricyrtis hirta is a wonderful perennial with an exotic, orchid looking flower which goes by the common name, Toad Lily.  Such an unfortunate name, for such a beautiful plant.  

     Toad lily is a valuable addition to a shade garden and is one of the few that bloom so late in the garden year; the flower, making its appearance in September and October.  The creamy white flowers, often in clusters, which open to purple-spotted petals with centers resembling pieces of chenille, are borne on arching, hairy stems which reach 2 feet on height.   It is 
the spotting on the petals which attribute to the amphibian name.   The clumps will grow in size each season and can be divided after three to four years.  I plant mine among my hostas, and appreciate the unique blooms as the rest of my garden starts to fade for the season.  Flower varieties range from white, tinged with lavender to mauve and the spotting can be muted to intense.  There is even a yellow variety which I will hunt down for my garden.
     Toad lily is an elegant plant with a rather in-elegant name, but no matter what it is called, still a wonderful find for a shade garden in fall.