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Posts Tagged ‘shade tolerant plants’

I have been fortunate to have worked at some very good nurseries which have had great plants which they sold. Trees and shrubs and perennials which cover a vast swath of species, varieties and hybrids. Most of them have traveled from other continents to grow here.  One area that has been especially good to us is Asia and these plants usually grow very well. Many Asian plants we know for being splashy and showy, but I am often drawn to the more delicate and intricate in design. One species of plants are Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies)which are a quite most of the year; and then Whizzz-bang…. they go off like fireworks!

The small intricate flower of Tricyrtis formosana hybrids are commonly seen here.

The small intricate flower of Tricyrtis formosana hybrids are commonly seen here.

There are said to be 18 species of Tricyrtis which have crossed to create a group of  hybrid plants which are usually mislabeled in the trade. I know that in Japan these plants have been crossed for centuries  and then were ‘found’ and brought into the garden world in the 19th century by plant explorers who were sending plants back from Asia. Each species has lent something to the mix. Some Toad Lilies species have arching stems and have their blossoms along the axils of its leaves and others are more traditional in that the flowers are on the tops of leafy stems.

An attractive swath of Toad Lilies cutting through a shady boarder.

An attractive swath of Toad Lilies cutting through a shady boarder.

Tricyrtis grow from tropical  Philippine Island through into Nepal and then east across China and Korea into Japan. Here we generally only see the hardier varieties  such as formosana, hirta, affinis and latifolia and their many hybrids.  This means that the Toad Lilies are highly variable in their spotting and where on the plant the flowers are located.

This Trycrytis hybrid has it's flowers on the top of it's stems.

This Trycrytis hybrid has it's flowers on the top of it's stems.

Tricrytis have been so successful at hybridizing because they set  easily handled  fertile seed. Germinating it is relatively easy: sow the seeds warm under a thin coating of  moisture retentive soil and keep it there 5 to 6 weeks. Alternate the seed mixture into cold for up to 8 weeks, and then back to warm conditions until there is germination. This germination cycle is very common and basically follows nature, so it is possible to do the whole process outside as long as it does not freeze which will kill seeds. Once the plants are big enough to handle set them in seperate containers or where you want them to grow.

Toad Lily foliage is noticibly hairy along the margins and sometimes mottled.

Toad Lily foliage is noticibly hairy along the margins and sometimes mottled.

Now we know Toad Lilies are easy to germinate, it is good to know they are extremely easy to grow in the garden. Being woodland plants means Tricyrtis like  a shady position with dappled light. they require leafy nutrient rich soil which is moisture retentive which drains well.  They like their site be be well watered throughout the growing season.  These plants are stoloniferous and can easily be divided and moved around at any time as long as they are well watered after the transplanting is done.

Tricyris produce vigorous clumps which can easily be divided.

Tricyris produce vigorous clumps which can easily be divided.

Tricyris species can be used in several ways, as a specimen, in shady borders, naturalized and mass planted. Be sure to place them somewhere where the flowers are easily observed as they are small and delicately spotted and colored.   In colder areas it is advisable to plant them where they will get more sun and bloom earlier. They take -15c(-0 f) or zone 5 through 9.

It is easy to see why people are facinated by the spotted Toad Lily flowers.

It is easy to see why people are facinated by the spotted Toad Lily flowers.

More about Tricyrtis plants:

Tricyrtis formosana: http://www.mobot.org/gardinghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=A780

National Collection of Tricyrtis: http://www.nccpg.com/gloucestershire/tricyrtis.html

Until we meet again later…..

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The first gardening job I had was working for the summer at Park and Tilford  Gardens in North Vancouver. II was lucky as it was like an 4 month extension of education for me. Park And Tilford Gardens was at one time a well know distiller of the same name which was sold and turned into a shopping center on the condition that it kept the well known garden there.  The tiny space which is the garden had been neglected and then reclaimed to opened to the public.  The space is made up of 8 small themed gardens in a 3 acre site.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

It was particular famous for it’s collection of Magnolia trees. As you moved from the display garden into the the colonnade on the right side was a shrub like tree with large attractive smooth green leaves that is  now  beginning it season of bloom. This is the beautiful Magnolia sieboldii or Oyama Magnolia. It slowly blooms over a longer period than most other Magnolias which is only one of it’s many features.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens is likely to originate from Japan.

One thing that makes Magnolia siboldii attractive is that their flowers droop down so you look up into them. This downward facing flower is one of the features which shows off it’s attractive interior structure which is very primitive and found in Magnolia species.  the bizarre cone-like carpel is surrounded by many thick stamen which range from a rich dark blood red to a pale flesh color. There are both color forms in the Victoria area. The difference in stamen color tell us where the plant comes from. The plants which have the fleshy colored stamens are likely to originate in Japan(Honshu to Shikoku through to the Kyushu Islands) or southern China( Anhui, Fujian and Guangxi) and are  designated as Magnolia sieboldii subsp. japonica.  The red stamen plants come from a wider area including Korea and northern China(Manchuria) and are Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sieboldii.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii  Seedpod Still Ripening.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii Seedpod Still Ripening.

Oyama Magnolias are usually low multi-stemmed shrub trees which are wider than they are tall, growing 3.5m(10ft) by 4m(12ft) wide. The best placement of these trees is a elevated so the flowers are more visible. In Victoria the best location for this is most surprising, in a retail shopping center.  Look behind the Harris Green Village Shopping Center on View Street, at the bottom of the steps and going up into the shopping area there are several including a large one at the the top along the sunnier wall.  These are the pale stamen form. If you want to see the dark red form  of Magnolia sieboldii there is one in Beacon Hill Park along the stream  which runs between Goodacre and Fountain Lakes which parallel Blanchard Street. make sure you visit this species of Magnolia in the evening when it’s fragrance is most potent.

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

This is one Magnolia which is a forest dweller who does not like full sun.  All the Oyama Magnolias I have ever seen have been in sites which are sheltered from midday sun which would burn their leaves.  Care must be taken whenever you plant a Magnolia as it has fleshy brittle roots which can easily break, this is the time of most danger for these trees. they like fertile, moisture retentive soil which has some humus in it. It needs adequate water during the dry season here for good growth.  Do to it’s delicate roots it is not advisable to plant underneath(the trees in the above picture are under-planted with Pacysandra, a lush ground cover). Treat this tree as a specimen in your garden as it will be loved by all who see it.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll park in Early Spring.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll Park in Early Spring.

Oyama Magnolias bloom slowly over several months, from May sometimes into early August.  They are hardy to -20c(-5f) in North America but in their native setting have been known to withstand -40c(-40f). They are rated zone 6 through 8 here.

More Information on Siebolds’ Magnolia:

More information why this is a great plant: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/display?id=2619&searchterm=all

On the Magnolia flower structure: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trmar98c.htm

Park & Tilford Garden: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/ParkTilford01.html

Beacon Hill park map showing it’s features: http://www.beaconhillparkhistory.org/graphics/mapsA.htm

Until We Meet Agian Later This Week:

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