The threes and the fours

Firstly, the THREES. This fantastic herbaceous perennial is Trillium chloropetalum var. giganteum, commonly known as the Giant Wake Robin. It is one of nature’s curiosities because its leaves and petals are all arranged in strict multiples of three. Three parts to the leaf, three petals to each flower. The leaves are handsomely mottled in burgundy, above which the richest of flowers stand proud in the spring garden. This Trilliumis native to California and is the perfect woodland ground cover plant here in the UK, being fully hardy throughout the country. It requires a moist but well-drained soil, with plenty of organic matter. 

Trillium chloropetalum var. album

Its cousin is the white version – Trillium chloropetalumvar. album. Slightly smaller, with similar mottled leaves, but this time pure white flowers flushed burgundy at the base.

There are many other Trilliumworthy of a place in the garden, but these two stand out for one reason alone – they are reliable, and they make a fine stand in a relatively short time. Once large clumps are established, propagate by division after flowering to increase stocks. The failing of other Trillium, for me as an impatient gardener, is their speed to maturity and display. Traditional propagation techniques are sowing from seed, but they are really slow – 5-7 years from sowing to flowering, and then a long wait for an impressive display, during which time they are easy picking for passing molluscs! 

Now to the FOURS – this is Paris quadrifolia. Everything on this plant is arranged in FOURS.

Commonly called Herb Paris, this plant is native to the UK. The scientific and common names are derived from the Latin par, meaning pair (not the French capital!), referring to the symmetry of the pairs, and quadrifolia meaning four leaves. The leaves are positioned in opposed pairs, and the flowers are wispy and inconspicuous and have a crown of golden-yellow stamens, making Paris quadrifolia a distinctive woodland plant.

The THREES and the FOURS!