Aug. 8th, 2016

lblanchard: (swannfountain)
[This is an occasional series of postings inspired by Abigail Rorer, Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer's Short Guide to Worthless Plants. Rorer's book includes engravings of fourteen plants Farrer considered worthless-- an interesting hybrid of botanically accurate and...different. You can see her work, including all fourteen mimpish squinnies, here: ]

After wandering through the Tibetan border with Reginald Farrer, I return us to Abigail Rorer's fourteen mimpish squinnies. Today's mimpish squinnie is Tricyrtis hirta and this entry is from The English Rock-Garden, Vol. 2.

By Juni from Kyoto, Japan ( - image description page) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tricyrtis. — These strange plants have all the same resemblance, differing chiefly in their stature, so that one picture may suffice to express their almost inexpressible quaintness. From a short stock they send up more or less arching stems of a foot or two, embraced by dark hairy leaves, corrugated and oval-pointed, which from their axils almost all the way up emit large and evil flowers, very late in summer as a rule, or autumn, built on the scheme of a lily, but wried by perversity into an almost Aubrey-Beardsley freakishness of outline and heavy waxen texture and livid sombre colour of putrid pinks, freckled and spotted with dark purple till their name of Toad-lily is felt to be apt. They like the treatment of Trillium, and with the
Trilliums should be planted and there left undisturbed for ever, in a rather warm corner, however, that their flowers may develop betimes, for often they are nipped in the bud by autumn. T. hirta (T. japonica) is the best known ; but a better plant is T. macropoda, if only that it blooms earlier, in June and July, in rather closer sprays. Much smaller and quite dainty and charming in its sinister way is T. Hototogisu. Pronounce this " hototongeese," and think of it accordingly as meaning the nightingale of Japanese woodlands, a frail 6-inch stem or so, set rarely with heart-shaped leaves, and bearing several flowers only, in a loose spray, notable and noble for the delicate build of the plant.

By Schnobby (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

For Abigail Rorer's treatment of this plant, click here:


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