Thursday, 24 April 2014

Plant of the Moment No.22: Erythroniums

Erythronium californicum 'White Beauty'
I coveted these classy April woodlanders from the moment I first came across them in the inspriational Beth Chatto's Wodland Garden, but felt sure they would prove demandingly fickle and/or be decimated by the legions of marauding slugs that munch their way through our garden every spring. Happily, it turned out I was fretting unnecessarily and we now have five Erythronium species and cultivars making slowly increasing colonies, with more to follow. While the flowers are rather fleeting, many Erythroniums have beautifully marked glossy foliage that makes a garden-worthy feature in itself. Dubbed 'dog's-tooth violets' after the canine-like rhizomes, the trick seems to be to plant really plump, freshly lifted rhizomes that have not dried out by sitting around in storage for too long. Apart from giving them growing conditions that mimic their native deciduous woodland (light in spring, shady in summer, moist but well-drained humusy soil), I mark the clumps to avoid decimating the dormant rhizomes with a carelessly enthusiastic plunge of a fork or trowel...

Erythronium 'Knightshayes Pink'
Erythronium 'Pagoda'

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