The mission of the day was to find a Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), a woodland dwelling shade plant; evasive, magical and reminiscent of childhood. Thus I set forth on this mission in the company of another garden addict – a very deadly combination.
We hit three garden nurseries in a row – one that focused on native plants, the second an unplanned stop at a large farm store that sold food in addition to gorgeous botanicals, and the last one set in a niche on a hill and just delightful. I am buzzing high blissed out from these wonderful places. (Also maybe from the orange muffin with piles of orange butter cream frosting on top that we got at the second place). In any case, I have been floating all weekend…..and a bit lighter in the wallet too.
Unfortunately, we discovered that the pulpits had already finished blooming, so I procured a couple of young ones in the hope that they might naturalize and bloom next spring. That was OK though, because the Trillium were calling from their pots. Trillium are members of the lily family, native to temperate climates, with three leaves, three petals. They had ones with purple flowers, dark red flowers, snowy white ones, creamy ones and a yellow that was scented like lemon. It was just too much to bear. I ended up with three different varieties and put them in different spots throughout the shade garden to see where they will be happiest and how they will fare, before investing in any more.
The red one (Trillium erectum) supposedly has a flower that stinks like rotting meat. Its red color will also attract the beetles and carrion flies that will help pollinate it. I haven’t tried to smell this one yet and am not sure I want to, especially since the yellow one has such a lovely scent. At least it is a very small flower. But that might explain why one of its nicknames is “Stinking Benjamin” (no explanation of why Benjamin though). It is also called birthroot, tri-flower and wake robin. I think it is stunning. Its small, dark flower catches the eye on the floor of the shade garden and draws your attention there.
After filling the garden cart with the Jacks, Trillium, Wild Ginger and an Arnica plant, we had to stop and admire the lovely yellow Lady Slippers, which in my opinion are the crème de la crème of the northern shade garden. When I dream of having the winning lottery ticket, a garden filled with such wonders is part of the master plan……