Late winter plant catalogs can be dangerous for me. During days steeped in February gloom, the catalogs arrive proclaiming via full color pictures the plants I must add to my garden this year! Most plants I have no room for, many are inappropriate for my zone or expertise, and most are above my budget. But I have the desire to try, and I love those pictures, so I am game. I am especially drawn to unusual flowering plants not hardy in my zone 8 garden, and I don’t take failure lightly. Case in point, I made 3 heart-felt attempts to grow Tacca chantrieri and failed each time. Instructions for successful growth and care were followed to each minute detail but after 6 months of nothing, I grudgingly accepted defeat.
So when I saw pictures of Paris polyphylla and the promise that “Your friends will be intrigued!” and “Your garden will be the envy of your neighbors!”, I decided to give it a try. I had planned to order the plant the following week but when I saw it offered at the 2007 Northwest Flower and Garden show I decided it was fate. I proudly brought home a healthy, sprouting rhizome. Within a month or two I saw signs of life, and by early April the plant sported a tiny flower. Not the 2 foot tall stately stalk I was promised but the plant was young, spring was cold, and I was patient. I was certain the following year would bring a stunner. It didn’t. No intrigued and envious neighbors stopped by to say “You are one amazing gardener! How do you do it??!!”” By the third year, the plant disappeared – nothing showed – and I put Paris polyphylla out of my mind and the catalogs in the recycle bin.
Late winter 2013, as I weeded and mulched around a beautiful Yucca gloriosa ‘Bright Star’ (I highly recommend this gorgeous plant) I had planted 6 months earlier, I noticed an odd bloom peeking a couple of inches above the mulch. I recognized it immediately as the disappearing Paris I had purchased years ago. I tended it through spring until it died back. It came up again this year, and again just a little thing blooming a couple of inches above the soil. Still no envious neighbors, but I have faith that next year it will make me proud.
Because if it doesn’t, I will plant another Yucca ‘Bright Star’ on top of it and call it good.