Erythronium californicum 'White Beauty'
April is the month when the spring garden is in full swing. To take the metaphor further the upturned ballerina tutus of the Erythroniums are all pirouetting gaily round the confines of the peat beds in the somewhat chilly April sunshine. Many of the species are among the most beautiful of our spring borders; some are quite difficult to please while others are a delight in all ways: beautiful in appearance and easy of culture.
The accompanying illustration is of a potful of E. White Beauty taken at the Main Spring Show at the RHS Halls in Westminster. Although shown as a pot grown specimen it is a most wonderful open ground plant, liking a respectably deep soil with a goodly addition of humus, moisture in growth but then accepting drier conditions once dormant. When planted in a mixed bed of dwarf Rhodos and other ericaceous plants it clumps up gently without ever becoming a nuisance. The clumps can be split and moved with impunity once the bulbs are dormant. Increase by seed is less usual with this form, giving rise to the assumption that E. White Beauty is a hybrid. It is, however, now fairly certain that it is not a hybrid but probably an excellent selected form of E. californicum
Some Erythronium species like E.albidum, E. americanum and E. multiscapoideum show vastly greater colour contrasts in their leaves with wonderful brownish/purplish blotches and streaks like maxi-measles while the leaves of E. 'White Beauty' are more restrained in mix-and -match tones of mid to apple green. The flowers are more creamy than white, shading into clear yellow towards the centre of the petals until interrupted by a strong zig-zag of chestnut -brown, before continuing on into the throat. The anthers and slightly trifid stigma are a creamy white, the anthers being held on slim filaments. Unless there is an unseasonally hot spell established clumps produce a sufficient succession of flowers to make this altogether a great addition to the spring garden.