The common name of Toad Lily is rather unfortunate for such an attractive and unusual flower. The amphibian reference really refers to the blotches and markings on the flowers. The scientific name “Tricyrtis hirta”, from the Greek “three and Convex” is because the three outer petals have tiny swellings at the base. The Plants have alternate, 6-inch leaves on arching, hairy stems that are usually 2 feet high and clusters of tiny flowers that grow from the junction of leaf and stem.
There are many different varieties, but most are white based petals with purple and pink spots with blue and yellow hues showing in some different varieties. However, it is the intricacy of the flowers that remind me of the passion flowers and orchids. The plants do best in light shade in humus-rich soil that retains moisture, and are suitable for borders or less formal parts of the garden and among shrubs gradually becoming large clumps. Some self-seed but not aggressively. Toad lilies should be planted where they are easily seen. Once planted, they can last for years and remain close to the same size. Get out the zoom lens or the magnifying glass when gazing at them. To really appreciate the beauty.
The Pink Turtlehead is an uncommon wildflower that is found primarily in southern and western Illinois and is native to the Appalachian mountains. Habitats include wet to moist floodplains, forests and swamps. The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bumblebees, and attract the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. The bitter foliage is usually avoided by deer and groundhogs.
This native perennial plant is 1-3' tall and will form side branches if the central stem is broken. It is an attractive plant with pink turtle-head-shaped flowers. Displayed in clusters, each of the small white, rose-pink or purple snapdragon-like flowers is two-lipped, resembling the head of a turtle with an open mouth. The best thing about these attractive, long blooming perennials is that the show begins in late summer and continues on into early autumn when flower color is at a premium in most gardens. Turtleheads make long lasting cut flowers. Plant them in a bed by themselves or combine them with another long and late bloomer, the Japanese anemone.
Gardeners trying to interest young children in gardening could not do better than by showing them Turtleheads! Consider creating an animal garden for them of Turtleheads along with the Toad Lily and Lamb's Ears.