Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time for Trilliums

As a child I was taken on many an excursion through the woods of Northwestern Ontario by my intrepid Auntie Annie.  Armed with copies of Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America plus A Field Guide to Wildflowers : Northeastern and North-Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) and two salami sandwiches we would make our way through the underbrush.  Auntie Annie firmly maintained that the sandwiches were for our lunch but I always suspected that they were part of the backup plan, just in case we got lost and had to survive until rescued.

Sometimes we had a destination in mind and one of my favourites was "Oh My Golly Jungle".  Timing was everything with this place (they didn't call it "Oh My Golly" for nothing).  Too soon and we had to make our way through a bog that could suck the sneakers right off of our feet.  Too late and the going was easy but there was no reward at the end.  Just right and you found yourself in a amazing clearing full of Lady's Slippers (Cypripedioideae).  It was magic!

Sometimes we just set out to "see what we could see" taking our time, enjoying the moment and developing an appreciation for our Canadian flora and fauna.   This, I was taught, should remain where/how you found it and should NEVER EVER be picked, plucked or otherwise tampered with.

Many years later I started creating a tiny bit of forest garden in my own yard, slowly adding shade loving ferns and hardy hostas.  Of course, what I really lusted after were wildflowers, Trilliums being at the top of the list.  One of the first spring wildflowers, they taunted me with their jaunty white flowers blooming in profusion and yet so unattainable.  Though I discovered that it is actually legal to pick them in Ontario (as long as they aren't in a provincial park) I just couldn't do it.  It seemed like a horrible betrayal, especially if they did not survive the transplant which is prone to happen.  The wrath of Auntie Annie echoed across the years.  She may be 95 now but she's still fiesty!

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Trilliums are now being cultivated and that the good people at  Make It Green could provide me with some.  Of course, they are only available in rather limited quantities and only at the right time of the year, illusive little devils that they are. So due to one thing and another (read a life that was way too busy to take time for Trilliums) it took me five years to actually bring my first batch home.  I tucked them into my garden this week and then celebrated by taking a few photos of their "wild" siblings who live just on the other side of our fence.

I will be keeping an eye on their progress while I ponder my next gardening move.  Any idea where I could find cultivated Lady's Slippers?

Photos: Trilliums 10-04-14 by Tatiana Dokuchic, PinkSlipper,  T. grandiflorum

Update May 5, 2012:  It took two years, but these Trilliums are now flowering in my garden!!


  1. I love trilliums! I had always been taught that they were illegal to pick too ... and maybe that's why I always think of them as being special. Your forest garden sounds soooo lovely! I really hope you're able to find some Lady Slippers to join the others!

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for dropping by!

    Maybe it's a good thing that we all believe it to be illegal - one of those urban myths worth perpetuating :) I did find some Jack in the Pulpit to add to my collection. Not as nice as Lady Slippers but fun all the same. I will keep looking as the hunt is part of the adventure!