Peaks and Troughs

Trilliums are magical woodland plants that I have seen growing in North America. I have always wanted to grow them, but as they like humus-rich, moist, acid to neutral soil and dislike heavy clay, it is a bit of a lost cause in Upper Green garden. But of course I tried and, more than 6 years ago, I planted one (expensive) Trillium cuneatum in a tub of acid soil, which already held a rather leggy Rhododendron luteum. Trilliums are slow to establish. A solitary trifoliate leaf appeared the first spring and a leaf reappeared the second and third springs. Eventually I gave up looking – another failure. One really should not try to create a woodland in a tub. I added Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ to the tub and this is gradually taking over. The poor Rhododendron luteum looks increasingly peaky.

Imagine my surprise and delight last week, when I found a white trillium flower hiding modestly beneath the Skimmia. Has it been doing this quietly each spring for a number of years?  I trimmed the Skimmia a little (probably a mistake) so I could admire the three-petalled flower, I took some photographs and I gloated (definitely a mistake).

P1140211
Trillium cuneatum (Wake Robin)

Now imagine my despair this week, when I found the beautiful flower, with its collar of leaves, lying sadly on the soil. A slug (or snail) had eaten right through the stalk. Did my trimming expose it and hasten its end? Is the the plant going to recover after putting all its energy into flowering? I have to wait yet another year- but I am going to try and grow some more.

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