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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cottage Lake Gardens Tea and Trillium Tour

I recently attended the Tea and Trillium Tour at Cottage Lake Gardens in Woodinville, WA., with a Northwest Perennial Alliance neighborhood group called Petal Pushers. My friend Annette introduced me to the group, and I decided to tag along with them for a visit to Cottage Lake.

The Tea and Trillium tour is run by Susie Egan, who gardens at Cottage Lake with a special focus on Trilliums. There are 48 varieties of Trilliums, and she has them all. Not all of them were flowering when we were there, but that's the way it should be. Trilliums are a spring ephemeral perennial, and most perennials flower briefly. But since Susie has some that flower early in the spring, even in snow, and some that flower later, you are pretty much assured of seeing Trilliums in flower whenever you go (the tours only run in the spring).

The main house at Cottage Lake Gardens

All set for tea, with Trillium-decorated plates and glasses

Susie gave a Powerpoint presentation on Trilliums while we sat and had tea and cakes.
Susie is a wonderfully animated and entertaining speaker. Her excellent talk was jam-packed with information about Trilliums, including their natural history. Most Trilliums are native to the East Coast of North America, with only 7 that are native here on the West Coast, and only three in Washington state. There are also a few that are native to temperate regions of Asia.

The view out the front door -- Let's go!

Cottage Lake -- the view from the house

Susie pointing out a Primula -- it's the same color as her shirt

Trillium cuneatum

Trillium luteum

Double white Trillium

Trillium cuneatum

Trillium sulcatum

White Trillium sulcatum

Like my own garden, Cottage Lake Gardens is built on glacial till, which is basically a small amount of sandy and/or clay soil and lots of rocks. And like me, Susie has edged all her beds with the many rocks she unearths as she digs.

Trillium chloropetalum

Susie has also planted an interesting variety of foliage plants as companions to her Trilliums. It's a smart move not to plant too many other flowering plants, so as not to draw attention away from the Trillium flowers.

The mottled leaves of a Podophyllum offer a good contrast to the mottled leaves of the Trilliums

A painted fern also makes a nice combo, with good burgundy echoes of each other

The small blue flowers and white, veined leaves of Brunnera go well with the yellow Trillium luteum

Paris aff. incompleta

Paris quadrifolia

Trillium in a sea of Oxalis

Susie saves most of the seeds from her plants and propagates them herself. She has quite a variety for sale at the end of the tour. I have a few Trilliums growing here, but I bought a couple of new ones.