|Beautiful yellow trout lily (Erythronium – perhaps ‘Pagoda’?) from Barry Parker’s Parkdale garden|
Spring has arrived, and now we’re waiting impatiently for it to actually begin. But just because there are blank, snowy spots where your plants are supposed to be doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about what to plant between them next year. In fact, each season in season is the best time to take notes.
So, rather than my intended Canada Blooms 2014 Wishlist, which can wait till next Friday (get your thinking caps on, we can brainstorm together), this Friday Idea File covers four springy plant families you’ll wish you’d planted this year – so that you can consider them for next.
1. Trout lilies (Erythronium)
|Light illuminating the white petals of an Erythronium in Queen Victoria Park, Niagara Falls in April 2012|
This native North American geophyte or bulb is pure fairy magic, with recurved petals and trout-spotted leaves, hence the common name. It is in fact a member of the large lily family, along with a couple of other cousins in this post. Best in moist, humusy soil over winter and spring, it will take a drier summer dormancy. Last fall, I planted E. ‘Pagoda’ at the dappled edge of my dry shade garden.
2. Species or botanical tulips (Tulipa)
|Tulipa humilis ‘Little Princess’ will also have a place in my garden this year|
These wee pretties are the diverse parents of the larger bulbs we associate with the word “tulip.” To the many original species, we now add numerous named cultivars that retain the miniature form of their folks. Species tulips are more perennial in nature than their hybridized offspring, which tend to run down after a few seasons. Lower growing and long blooming, they like to be tightly spaced and form a bright mat of colour near the front of your garden bed. Their open form begs to be gazed into.
|Tulipa clusiana, possibly ‘Cynthia’, is a little taller at about 25 cm (just under a foot tall)|
|They aren’t all in the yellow range. This is T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ in my garden, and other species are in pinks or mauves|
3. Fritillaries (Fritillaria)
|Fritillaria hermonis ‘Amana’, a rarer, exotic form, again from the lovely garden of Barry Parker|
Fritillarias have nodding, bell-like flowers that range widely from tiny to towering, and from white through yellow to deepest plum, many with unique patterning. Some are native to North America, although these don’t include the three shown here. Like all bulbs, they like a well-drained position, and prefer moisture during the growing and flowering period. And while they do go into summer dormancy, the soil during that time should probably not be bone dry. Mine dwindled away for that reason. Still, I’d plant them again, even if they turned out to be short lived. They’re adorable.
|Barry’s naturalized patch of Fritillaria meleagris, the checkered or snakeshead lily, including the all-white form|
|Tall crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis) in St. James Park at the end of April 2010|
4. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria)
|My own double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’) was a gift from Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening|
Native to moist, open woodlands in North America, bloodroot is the only herbaceous perennial in this post; all the rest are bulbs. But it’s one of the earliest spring bloomers and, especially in the double form, can be delicately showy, like its cousins in the poppy family. I love the way the new leaves enfold the flower bud like an offering. The leaves themselves are also large and dramatically frilled, although they will disappear when the plant retreats into dormancy once the trees above leaf out.
|Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Roseum’ is the pink species of the single form, more obviously pink in real life|
For information on bulbs for all seasons, do check out the excellent Pacific Bulb Society website, which is loaded with pictures and information. Or join the Greater Toronto Bulb Society, to meet gardeners who are often willing to share more than just information. Gardeners are like that.
So share your own thoughts: What plant families would you add to this list?