H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Gillenia Trifoliata - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Gillenia Trifoliata Described.
Gillenia Trifoliata - Syn. Spiræa Trifoliata and S. Triloba—Three-leaved Gillenia; Nat. Ord. Rosaceæ.
A hardy herbaceous perennial from North America, imported in 1713. The main features about this plant are its elegant form and rich tints. The illustration may give some idea of the former quality, but to realise the latter the reader should see a living specimen in the form of a bold clump. There is a wild beauty about this subject which it is not easy to describe; as a flower it is insignificant, but the way in which the flowers are disposed on the slender stems, blending with a quaintly pretty foliage, neither too large nor dense, renders them effective in their way. It is, however, only as a whole that it can be considered decorative, and it should be well grown.
Although most nearly related to the spiræas the distinctions from that genus are very marked, notably the very slender stems and large flowers, which are produced singly on rather long-bending pedicels, almost as fine as thread, and, like the stems, of a bright brown (nearly ruddy) colour. The flowers form a lax panicle, interspersed with a little foliage. The calyx is a bright brown colour, rather large and bell-shaped. It contrasts finely with the five long, narrow petals, which are white, tinted with red; they are also irregular in form and arrangement, somewhat contorted. The leaves, as implied by the specific name, are composed of three leaflets; they have very short stalks, and the leaflets are all but sessile, lance-shaped, finely toothed or fringed, ribbed, and somewhat bronzed. Perhaps it is most useful in a cut state; the sprays, even if they have but one or two flowers on them, are charming for vase work. I may say the calyx is persistent, and after the petals have fallen they not only increase in size, but turn a fine red colour, and so render the sprays additionally effective.
To grow this plant well it should have a deep soil; it also loves moisture, and, as already hinted, partial shade; it is a steady grower, far from rampant, like the spiræas. This is a capital subject to grow near or under "leggy" shrubs and trees, where, in semi-shade, it is not only at home, but proves very attractive. It may be propagated by division, the best time being early in the year, just before growth commences.
Flowering period, June to August.
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