After three decades in this garden it seems that too often I am baffled by one thing or the other. There is no need to delve more deeply into why I know so little, but rather we will discuss today’s mystery.
I have grown toad lilies (Tricyrtis) for eight or ten years, and older plants have spread vigorously in girth. At no time have I noticed seedlings of any sort, until this year. Now, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds. So many, that my wife is convinced seedlings should be weeded out before they take over (not that anything of the sort has ever occurred in this garden, with few exceptions).
I am curious to see what becomes of the seedlings, though at this point I don’t know where any more than a few could be transplanted for observation. I’ve instructed my wife (nicely this time) to let them be for a while until I can figure what can be done with them. Someday, something must be, since there is not space for fifty or a hundred toad lilies growing so close together. So, in a few months, or perhaps next spring when they have grown a bit larger I’ll dig most of them out. Some will be transplanted, but with the numbers growing some must be discarded. Though the seedlings show little variation today, with a dozen or more varieties in the garden there could be natural hybrids.
I go through this every year with hellebores, that seed prolifically with hundreds of seedlings each year. I started years ago by planting a handful of hellebores, and kept planting new varieties that caught my eye, but half or more of the plants in the garden are seedlings. With many dozens of flowering size plants there are now so many hundreds of tiny seedlings that it would take a garden three times this size to hold them all. I hope to pass many along to my sons who are beginning gardens in their new homes. Everyone can use hellebores, I think, and soon there are likely to be as many toad lilies as they’d like also.
A year ago I planted several new toad lilies (as I do most years), and one that was purported by the grower to be the earliest to flower (Tricyrtis latifolia ex SICH 1735, above and below). In early July it is on its third flower, while others are only beginning to bud with most flowering in late August and September. The flowers of this toad lily are small and almost yellow, and as it grows perhaps it will have less ornament than others with larger blooms, but at this point I’m quite pleased to extend the season of toad lily flowers a month earlier. Perhaps one of the seedlings will one day become such a treasure.