Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unusual Water Garden Blooms: The Marsh Trefoil

Hoping to add additional color and more diverse blooms to our water garden, last spring we planted several small marsh trefoils, Menyanthes trifoliata, more commonly known as bog beans. Planted among the other water plants, they produced foliage that quickly got lost among the water mint, variegated water lettuce, and pennywort. Although they reportedly bloom in May, June, and July, we never saw a single blossom. To say that I was underwhelmed by their lackluster performance would be an understatement.

A year later, I am having to eat my words and revise my previously less than favorable opinion. My guess is that either the plants were not mature enough to bloom or had already bloomed before we purchased them and do not bloom repeatedly during spring.

This spring, they surprised us with spikes of interesting star-shaped flowers that popped up in several areas, treating us to a display of color and beauty, weeks before anything but the forget-me-nots are in bloom.

The blooms are covered with tiny little hairs making them appear fuzzy, almost shimmery .
Even in the rain, the blooms are a definite eye-catcher. The tiny hairs that cover the petals hold droplets of water that glisten in the light. And this early in the season, before the water mint has had a chance to spread over all of the other pots, the bright green foliage stands in bright contrast against the darker mint and red dock.

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