Monday, April 16, 2007

Fritillaria Raddeana

Fritillaries are a favorite around here; like most gardeners, Fritillaria imperialis (the crown imperial) was the first one I grew. A relative newcomer to our garden is a close relative of crown imperials; it's Fritillaria raddeana. Both of these fritillaries are from central Asia, both being about two foot tall, and very early out of the ground, blooming in early April. Raddeana has wonderful greenish yellow flowers, with a touch of burgundy, and it has the same nectar droplets in its flowers as the crown imperial (if you look closely you can see one in the closest flower). This fritillary also has the same skunkish odor to its foliage, but it's much less prominent than in imperialis.
I'm surprised that Fritillaria raddeana isn't at least slightly popular in gardening circles, as it is a lovely thing, and very vigorous. Greenish flowers in general usually don't seem to catch on, and perhaps that is part of it. In earliest spring, it just seems to explode out of the ground, and so far it is one of the bulbs that I really look for each year. It likes sun and good drainage, if you are intrigued. I have it planted on a slope, with some hellebores, and with various small early bulbs planted about its base, and with some nearby hostas to take over the bare spot that raddeana will leave when it goes dormant.
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You know the old saying, green doesn't sell- color does. Kinda dismisses green altogether, doesn't it??!!
At the nursery where I work, we stock the plant material for color show. Even though it's the shrubs I look for, most little old ladies got to see them impatiens....
I think your fritillaria is fabulous!
I like that frittilary... better even than the usual orange-flowered crown imperials we see in the garden centers' bulb section each fall.It's very... handsome is the word that comes to mind.

Where do you find these little gems? Old House Gardens only lists f. meleagris and I don't know enough about other bulb purveyors to know who has quality stuff.
Sissy... I'm wondering (since it's closely related), if raddeana would hybridize with imperialis. I'm going to try it with a yellow imperialis.

Kim... I think I got it at Mcclure & Zimmerman. Note that Odyssey Bulbs has it for this fall... kind of pricey at $14.50, but it's a big bulb
Thanks, Don. I've never heard of either of those places, so I appreciate being pointed in the right direction.
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