Head gardener, Nick Haworth’s April advice about Erythronium (Dog Tooth Violets).
The Dog Tooth Violet, gets its name from the pointed shape of the bulbs. It is a beautiful genus of plants and I’m pleased we have plenty of them in the Garden House. It’s attractive, marbled, dark green leaves make an effective backdrop for the lily-like flowers, which can be white, yellow or pink. It’s a plant that adds colour and movement low to the ground, as the flowers are aloft at just 10cm to 30cm high, set on thin reddish stems, so they dance around a bit and contrast with the low leaves. That reminds me of another name for it, “Trout Lily” because of the marbled leaves that are quite broad and flat, like rippling water and a hidden trout I suppose.
Erythroniums are easy to grow. Starter plants should self-seed and colonise if you replicate their natural surroundings. They enjoy dappled shade under deciduous trees, although some of ours do well naturalised in grass. They’ll face any point of the compass, so plant them for your enjoyment rather than theirs.
If you have soil that stays damp give ‘tuolumnense’ a try as it copes with wetter conditions. There are plenty of species and cultivars to choose from, for example, ‘Joanna’ has multiple flowers to a single stem, so it has a longer flowering period than others. All Erythroniums will die back in the summer and appear again each spring.