H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Trientalis Europaea - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Trientalis Europaea Described.
Trientalis Europaea - Trientalis Europæa - European Wintergreen, or Star-flower; Nat. Ord. Primulaceæ.
Some may say, "Why, this is a common British plant;" and so it is in some parts, but for all that there are many who have never seen it. In no way does the mention here of this lovely little flower need an apology: the best possible reasons for growing and recommending it are in the facts that it is very beautiful and greatly admired.
The flowers, which are ¾in. across, are salver-shaped, pure white, excepting for a day or two when newly opened, then they are stained with a soft pink; the calyx has eight handsome light green, shining, awl-shaped sepals; the corolla has five to nine petals, equal in size, flatly and evenly arranged, their pointed tips forming the star-like appearance from which the flower takes one of its common names; the flower stalks are exceedingly fine—thready—but firm, from 1in. to 3in. long, and each carries but one flower; they issue from the axils of the leaves, which are arranged in whorls of five or seven, and nearly as many blossoms will be produced from the whorl, but seldom more than one, and hardly ever more than two, flowers will be open together, when they occupy the central position of the foliage, which gives the plant an elegant appearance. The leaves are of a pale green colour, sometimes a little bronzed at the tips, veined, entire, bald, lance-shaped, and, as before hinted, verticillate; they vary much in size, being from 1in. to 3in. long and ½in. to 1in. broad. The stems are round, reddish, slender, and naked, with the exception of two or three minute round leaves, borne distantly apart; the stems, too, like the leaves, vary in length; sometimes they grow 8in., while others equally floriferous are not above 3in. high; the root is creeping, and somewhat tuberous. A colony of this plant has the appearance of a miniature group of palms, bedecked with glistening stars at the flowering time, and it is one of the most durable flowers I know; so persistent, indeed, are they, that botanical descriptions make mention of it.
In a cut state they equal either violets or snowdrops, from the beautiful combination of flowers and foliage, and it is a pity that it is not grown in sufficient quantities for cutting purposes. Its culture is very easy, but to do it well it may be said to require special treatment; in its wild state it runs freely, and the specimens are not nearly so fine as they may be had under cultivation with proper treatment. It should have moist quarters, a little shade, light vegetable soil, and confinement at the roots. I ought, perhaps, to explain the last-mentioned condition. It would appear that if the quick-spreading roots are allowed to ramble, the top growths are not only straggling, but weak and unfruitful. To confine its roots, therefore, not only causes it to grow in compact groups, but in every way improves its appearance; it may be done by planting it in a large seed pan, 15in. across, and 4in. or 6in. deep. Let it be well drained; over the drainage place a layer of lumpy peat, on which arrange another of roots, and fill up with leaf soil and peat mixed with sand; this may be done any time from September to February; the pan may then be plunged in a suitable position, so as to just cover the rim from sight, and so do away with artificial appearances; but if it is sunk too deep, the roots will go over the rim and all the labour will be lost. So charming is this plant when so grown, that it is worth all the care. A well-known botanist saw such a pan last spring, and he could hardly believe it to be our native species. Pans at two years old are lovely masses, and very suitable for taking as grown for table decoration. The outer sides of the pans should be banked down to the tray with damp moss, which could be pricked in with any soft-coloured flowers, as dog roses, pinks or forget-me-nots.
I will only add that, unless the root confinement is effected either in the above or some other way, according to my experience, the plant will never present a creditable appearance as a cultivated specimen; at the same time, this somewhat troublesome mode of planting it is not in proportion to the pleasure it will afford and certainly ought not to prevent its introduction into every garden.
Flowering period, May and June.
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