Garden Photo of the Day

Wild and Wonderful

Wildflowers worth drooling over

As hard as we work in our gardens, sometimes nature just one-ups us. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve spotted in various hikes and walks through the woodlands of the eastern US.

The great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum, Zone 3 – 8). Can anything beat this incredible bloom? This trillium is one of my very favorite wildflowers. Sadly, deer love them, and deer overpopulation is doing a great deal of harm to these and other wildflowers in the US. So if you have a fenced garden, consider planting a few trillium. They are easy to grow in shady, woodland conditions, and if you can keep the deer out, the plants will thank you. Learn about gardening with trillium.

Trillium cuneatum (Zone 5 – 8) Though the flowers of this little trillium aren’t quite as showy as the big white trillium, they make up for it with their leaves that are covered with an incredible kaleidoscope of dark and silver spots. Very easy to grow in the garden, and make a dramatic statement wherever they are found.

When I think orchids, I usually think tropical plants with big showy flowers. But how about this, a winter hardy orchid that has incredibly beautiful leaves! This is Goodyera pubescens (rattlesnake plantain, Zone 3 – 9)which boasts some of the most beautiful leaves I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of native orchids with great leaves, the cranefly orchid (Tripularia discolor, Zone 5 – 9) is quite common in the woods of the southeastern US, and makes big patches of these very interesting evergreen leaves. The leaves can range from plain green, to purple spotted, or even…

… leaves so dark they are nearly black!

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/23/2018

    Wow! Love all those trilliums!

  2. garden1953 03/23/2018

    Beautiful! Did you find an entire field of them in the wild? I use to see an occasional one when we hiked in the Adirondacks but never anything like your first photo.

  3. poest 03/23/2018

    THANX! Wonderful snapshot.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/23/2018

    That had to have been quite a thrill to come upon that sea of white for the first time. Do you know how that magnificent swath has avoided becoming a favorite grazing ground for deer?

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/23/2018

    These are all great plants. I love the trilliums, but have not had great success with them. Time to get a bit more scientific about my soil, I guess. Thanks for introducing me to Tripularia. That's awesome. I'm a fan of the similar Aplectrum hymenale, with its single, pleated leaf.

  6. LaurelEm 03/23/2018

    Wow! I love that Rattlesnake Plantain. Is that ever commercially available?

  7. Chris_N 03/23/2018

    Tripularia is a new one to me. I've run into places in Wisconsin that are covered with great white trillium. We don't have T. cuneatum but we do have the similar T. recurvatum. I have both T. grandiflorum and recurvatum in my shade garden and love them. Goodyera pubescens has always been one of my favorite orchids. I had one that I rescued from an area being bulldozed. It lived for several years and then disappeared. I am so looking forward to spring.

  8. NCYarden 03/23/2018

    Awesome selections. Love the trilliums. I remember coming back through WV last Spring seeing large swaths of the Trillium grandiflorum on the slopes of the mountains along the highway - stunning.
    I added a few rattlesnake plantain to my garden from a plant rescue (from a woodland site prior to demolition for development) we went on a few years back. Cool little plants for sure.

    1. SteveA 03/28/2018

      Hi David, Sorry to interrupt the conversation, but could you email me at [email protected]? I just have a quick question about your garden.



  9. dankoellen 03/23/2018

    A really interesting and enjoyable post.

  10. deeinde 03/23/2018

    Really beautiful! But please remember that many of these wild flowers are becoming extinct in different areas. DO NOT REMOVE THEM FROM THE WILD! Transplanting them in home gardens is rarely successful. If you buy them, make sure you buy them from a legitimate source (breeders) and not from someone who digs them from the wild and resells them.

  11. cheryl_c 03/23/2018

    Beautiful reminders of how striking our own native plants can be! Many states have wildflower nurseries (usually privately owned and operated) where true natives (not cultivars of natives or 'nativars') are grown and sold. Please consider looking for ones in your state rather than purchasing a 'native' from a big box or mail order supplier.

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