Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, June 13, 2014

How to Upstage a Blooming Cardiocrinum Giganteum

I used to dabble in community theater when we lived in Massachusetts, and learned during those years about the details that went into stage movement (called blocking), the dangers of being upstaged, how you should never turn your back on the audience, or do anything, however small, to pull the audience's focus at the wrong moment. I sometimes think of the garden as a stage, in which plant placement in the beds is just as important as actor placement on the stage.

I spent an hour or so yesterday at Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, in the shade pavilion there, where another plant actually managed to draw my focus away from the swath of blooming Cardiocrinum giganteum. They're pretty fabulous plants, these giant Himalayan lilies.

Blooming Himalayan lily, about ten feet above my head, with last year's dried seedpods

They're impossible to ignore, these lilies with their soaring, wonderfully scented flowers, and their large shiny leaves. They're one of the first things you see at this time of year when you walk in to the shade pavilion at Far Reaches.

But, hard as it is believe, another plant drew my attention.

So, which one of the many great plants at Far Reaches was it?

Meconopsis (Hensol's Violet, probably)?

Nomocharis pardanthina?

Primula bulleyana?

These cool peony seedpods?

No, none of those. I do love how many of the plants at Far Reaches have more than one season of interest, though, like those peonies with their cool seedpods.
This feathery scarlet lily?

Dactylhoriza fuchsii?

This delicate apricot Primula, blooming amidst a swath of skunk cabbage?


It was this. Maianthemum oleraceum. With its in-your-face panicles of lavender flowers, hanging over the path right at eye level. Such a fantastic plant.

The Maianthemum's dark legs remind me of black bamboo

Even my camera didn't want to focus on the Cardiocrinum. That's the Maianthemum in the background.
Yup, totally upstaging every one of those blooming Himalayan lilies.


  1. So much to see, one plant can't hog the limelight.

  2. Wow all of them are gorgeous I think. The feathery scarlet lily are one of my faves of a very pretty lot! And that Maianthemum, so cool! Something to look forward to with some of ours.

  3. A pretty interesting mix of plants there. I have never heard of Nomocharis or Maianthemum - guess I need to be on the look out!

  4. Wow, y'all can grow the coolest things in the PNW.

  5. I had to look it up but I see it is a type of
    Solomon's seal. Beautiful! But so were all the other non-stars.

  6. Alison, you are ready for writing a suspense story! I love the main character - what a lovely color, and its flowers look like those of the lily of the valley.
    Hope to see you tomorrow.

  7. That's a beautiful plant alright even in a cast of thousands!

  8. Oooh I missed all those on my earlier visit . I did love that shade pavilion , If only I had more shade .

  9. Now those are what I'd call exotic plants!

  10. Wow, what a wonderful collection of gorgeous plants. That scarlet lily is outstanding! Thanks for taking us on your visit to Far Reaches

  11. Wonderful selection of plants. I' m baffled by that Cardiocrinum blooming two years running. Usually the bulb breaks up and you have to wait a few years. I have an ordinary Maianthemum but I have never seen one like that, it' s fabulous. And that lily is amazing.

  12. Lots of special plants but I love the Cardiocrinum giganteum. I tried it twice in my garden but without result. It is a real beauty.

  13. Cool idea: thinking of the garden as a stage. I find myself using many theater terms to describe what's going on out there.

  14. That Maianthemum is spectacular, and what a supporting cast!

  15. Very cool. Reminds me of Thalictrum. I wonder what the foliage looks like after the blooms are done.

  16. I also read Linda Cochran's take on this plant and it looks like a winner.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.