It was lust at first sight. This particular plant had never been grown in any of the Fairegarden incarnations for some reason. It may be that something negative was read or heard about it. Seeds everywhere, can’t get rid of it, something along those lines.
It was never seen on offer for sale anywhere locally, where one could get a close and first hand look at it. Pictures in catalogs, blogs or magazine articles did not light the fire of my desire. Which is unusual in itself.
So there we were, searching for something to buy. This garden is mostly sunny and the shade loving plants at this establishment are usually passed by in favor of the more splashy and colorful sun lovers. But it is late in the season and the selections had been well picked over already.
Then, there they were, with the flowers right at eye level, Tricyrtis ‘Empress’. The blooms were gorgeous and the plants had plentiful buds promising a good extended show. The leaves were sort of ratty, but that could be overlooked. Sometimes it is hard to keep things looking good in pots. One pot jumped into the cart and onto the checkout, homeward bound and into the garden, beside the pond with some ferns and black mondo grass. That was September 10th.
Rainfall has been decent since that initial planting and several buds have produced healthy looking blooms. The plant seems to have settled in well. Two weeks later, with another red hot coupon needing spent, two more plants begged to come home with me. I obliged.
Now there are three, planted closely together in the same area that has grown more shady as the pink dogwood above has grown larger. It might just work. I cannot offer first hand experience yet, the Tricyrtis need several years to be observed and analyzed. We did see some other toad lilies, the common name that does not hold any appeal for me, maybe why we never bought them before, at a farmer’s market recently. The flowers were pinkish and much smaller. I looked at them, but left them sitting on the table. They did not call my name. It is Tricyrtis ‘Empress’, said to be a hybrid of Tricyrtis formosana, that holds my heart, with her large, open flowers of good substance on arching stems.
Some plant facts:
*Hardy in USDA zones 5-9
*Height and width is 2 1/2 x 2 1/2
*Shade to part shade
*Moist but well-drained slightly acidic soil
*Blooms in late summer to fall
Perhaps this is the beginning of a long love affair with Tricyrtis, perhaps my admiration will remain loyal only to T. ‘Empress’. Perhaps it will die and leave me lonely. Only time will tell. But it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.*
*From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, 1850:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
These lines are a part of In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his beloved friend Arthur Hallam. Tennyson had met Hallam in 1829, when they were both students at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hallam’s sudden death in 1833 threw Tennyson into a tormented and near-suicidal state. In Memoriam was not published until 1850, the same year that Tennyson was chosen poet laureate of England.