Sunday, May 4, 2014

Exquisite woodlanders - Erythronium revolutum

Erythronium revolutum spring woodland plants
There's nothing quite like seeing a drift of pink Erythronium revolutum at this time of the year. We're so used to seeing drifts of bluebells but a much rarer sight to see in spring is a drift of this pink blossom carpeting the woodland floor.  If you watched the BBC's Gardeners World or Beechgrove Gardens two weeks ago you'd also have seen these exquisite flowers featured on each programme. 


Erythronium revolutum growing in the woodland at Wemyss Castle in Fife
Erythronium revolutum growing in the woodland at Wemyss Castle in Fife


If you travel further north from Fife into Perth and Kinross you'll also find many different Erythronium's growing at Branklyn Garden.   Here in the garden there are many different shades of pink including the darker flowering Erythronium revolutum 'Knightshayes Pink' and they happily self seed all around the garden.
Erythronium revolutum growing among Hacquetia epipactis and azaleas
Erythronium revolutum growing among Hacquetia epipactis and azaleas

They're also known here in the UK as Dog Tooth Violets and aptly given that name due to the bulb resembling a dogs tooth.  While if you're from America you'll call them 'Mahogany Fawn Lily'.
Either Erythronium 'White beauty'  or E. Californicum alongside the pink Erythronium revolutum
Either Erythronium 'White beauty'  or E. Californicum alongside the pink Erythronium revolutum
Erythronium revolutum
Erythronium revolutum with pink petals and a yellow eye
Just like bluebells these plants love the shade and they flower before the tree canopy above them opens into full leaf.  They are best grown from seed or purchased as a small pot plant. They have a very long stem underground which means that it's virtually impossible to divide them without  breaking the stem.  
growing under a canopy of trees whose leaves have yet to leaf out
growing under a canopy of trees whose leaves have yet to leaf out
Pink and white erythroniums with yellow oxlips bordering one of the many meandering paths full of flowering Rhododendrons.
Pink and white erythroniums with yellow oxlips bordering one of the many meandering paths full of flowering Rhododendrons.
with slightly reflexed petals on tall stems around 30 - 40 cms high
with slightly reflexed petals on tall stems around 30 - 40 cms high
They take on average about 3 - 5 years to flower from seed so patience is a virtue when it comes to growing these!  The secret to getting good flowers is to keep them in leaf for as long as possible the previous year and not growing them in heavy clay soil or thin chalky soils.
darker forms are more than likely Erythronium revolutum var 'Johnsonii'
darker forms are more than likely Erythronium revolutum var 'Johnsonii' 
The leaves are glossy green with a marbled brown markings.
Erythronium revolutum arising from a froth of oxlips at sunset
Erythronium revolutum arising from a froth of oxlips at sunset
If you're buying the bulbs in late August make sure that they haven't dried out.  Then plant them in a cool position, in well drained leafy soil about 10 cm deep and mark the spot!  
shot through a sea of Oxlips - the final rays of the sun illuminating the soft pink petals
shot through a sea of Oxlips - the final rays of the sun illuminating the soft pink petals 

Have you had any success with growing these exquisite woodland beauties in your garden?



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4 comments:

  1. They really are so fabulous! I'll look out for bulbs at the garden centre even if I can only afford one! I have to revamp my shady bed this autumn as it's been taken over by 'thugs' which have swamped other more precious little plants. Lovely post, Rosie and thanks by the way for adding me to your blog roll. :-)

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  2. They are exquisite, and like so many plants, all the better for being planted en masse. I tried E. pagoda in my last garden, and was always thrilled by the flowers, but my soil was too heavy for them to spread around at all. I hope to do better in this garden, they are definitely on the list for the autumn.

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  3. Hi Rosie, nice photos! The pink Erythroniums are enticing. They are still very much an exotic for me. I have a few, but desire more. E.'Pagoda' and the native E. americanum seem to do very well for us. They are always both a challenge to photograph and extraordinarily interesting from different angles. — jw

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  4. I've never seen some of these coast fawn lilies in our woodlands or parks in Germany, not even in the university garden of the botanical institute.
    Magnificent photography of floret, Rosie!
    Enjoy your weekend,
    regards from Germany,
    Uwe.

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