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Everyday Gardeners

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Great Plant, Unfortunate Name

I like unusual plants, especially when they’re easy to grow. That’s part of the reason that plants with weird-sounding names (like lungwort or toad lily) catch my attention.

In the case of toad lily (Tricyrtis), I’m really glad I did. This is a super-easy perennial to grow that thrives in shade gardens and produces intricate blossoms in late summer and autumn — a time when few other shade plants are putting on much of a show.

When you hear the name toad lily you probably don’t expect something this beautiful (I suspect the name comes from the spotting on the flowers, like how toads have spotted backs). And when you see something this beautiful, you wouldn’t expect it to be so easy to grow. But toad lily surprises.

There’s a fairly wide range of varieties; ‘Tojen’ is one of my favorites — it has unspotted lavender flowers and grows larger than most. ‘White Towers’ is another top pick in my garden; it has pure-white flowers. And ‘Gilt Edge’ bears leaves ringed in gold (and ‘Moonlight’ bears chartreuse foliage that’s great for brightening up a shade garden).

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