A roadside blanket of trilliums

Trillium closeup

“There is a certain simplistic elegance in three whorled leaves with a three-petaled flower (arising from the centre of the leaves),” points out the entry on trilliums on the website of the Ontario Woodlot Association. As I look at this photo I took this morning beside Queensborough Road, I have to say that I agree about the elegance part, though I would call it simple, as opposed to simplistic, elegance. (But that’s just the editor in me.)

Until today, I hadn’t thought very much about trilliums for several decades. I remember learning about them in my long-ago days at Madoc Township Public School – the days when the curriculum included information about wildflowers and memorizing flower parts like pistils and stamens, which I kind of doubt elementary-school kids do any more. But trilliums live in woodland areas, and as an adult I lived in urban places for a very long time. So our paths generally didn’t cross.

Now that Raymond and I have moved to Queensborough, however, I can happily revisit trilliums. And it was delightful to see a blanket of them in a wooded area beside Queensborough Road this morning as we carried out our near-weekly ritual of a trip to the dump/recycling depot. How beautiful they are! Of course I stopped to take a few photos:

Lots of trilliums

And I also did what I have done all my life when I come across trilliums, which is to look to see if I can find a red one in there somewhere. Red being my favourite colour, and red trilliums being far rarer than the white ones, I’ve always found it a bit of a thrill to come across one. Today, though, no luck.

Still, it was wonderful to be among the trilliums. And maybe also significant. Canadian readers will of course know that the trillium is the official flower of the province of Ontario, but readers from other countries may not. So yeah, maybe the discovery of the trilliums was a message for two people recently moved to little Queenborough (my childhood home) after many years in Montreal:

Welcome to springtime in Ontario!

10 thoughts on “A roadside blanket of trilliums

  1. Seeing trilliums in the woods is one of the great pleasures of springtime. Schools used to celebrate Arbour Day on the first Friday in May, which is a little early for trilliums, but we used to try to find some in bud at least. Arbour Day was very exciting we had no classes, but spent the morning cleaning the school and raking the schoolyard. Then we went off to have a picnic in the woods, and look for wildflowers. The girls all picked adders’ tongues, Dutchman’s breeches and Jack-in-the pulpit to take home. The boys raced around pulling up and chewing wild leeks, so they could blow their garlicky breath at the girls and make us scream.

    • I’d forgotten about Arbour Day. My mother used to mention it when she talked about her days in school. Thanks for such a nice recollection of the events, and for reminding me of the day itself.

    • Doris, your recounting of Arbour Day at Cedar School is a lovely short story in and of itself, and I thank you so much for sharing it! Today I was telling a Cooper friend who attended Rimington School about it, and she well recalled Arbour Days there – cleaning up the school and grounds in the morning, but at Rimington the afternoon’s entertainment was a ball game. The good old days for sure!

  2. Red trilliums are just a bit later than the white variety, and also smaller and more downward pointed, so they’re harder to find. Also white trilliums turn pink as they fade, so watch for that in another week!

    • I did not know that about white trilliums, Pauline – I will watch for that! Meanwhile, a couple of readers from out Declair Road way have told me (one with photographic evidence) that there are some beautiful red trilliums out there. I shall have to check it out!

  3. It is a welcome site to see a Trillium on the side of the road or through the deep forest. I often look to see all the wild flowers on my travels through the back roads daily on my way to work. It brings me back to those memorable days of going to the back woods with my dad and learning to drive the tractor. Once we arrived at the forest we would walk the woods and my mom would teach me all the wild flowers that would grow their. Only seldom were we allowed to bring back Trilliums to the dinner table for my grandmother. But forget me not and dogwoods among other were always a blessing. I think I only saw a ladies slipper twice in my life but was never allowed to pick it. We did learn the flowers in school but am not sure it they teach this anymore. Along with learning the different types of leaves so you know the origin of the tree. Funny when I was in CGIT I would learn to look for things in the forest to find my way back if I was lost along with my dad’s teachings. So I passed my knowledge on to my children and am doing so with my grandbabies. I guess that is what seeing a side road of Trilliums does to people. Makes them smile that nature never goes away. Happy Holiday Weekend Katherine. Enjoy!

    • Thank you so much, mk! It’s wonderful that you are passing on your knowledge about wildflowers and trees to your grandchildren. Lady’s slipper, yes – my aunt (who is very knowledgeable about such things) was telling me a while back about how rarely one finds them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one myself. Something to put on the to-do list: find lady’s slipper. (But don’t pick it!) A happy Victoria Day to you too!

  4. I have both types. There is a clump of white ones that appears every spring in the front lawn. The red ones are distributed individually throughout my woods

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