Thursday, December 25, 2008

More Fritillaries = A Better Garden

As if I needed any more reasons to be anxiously awaiting spring (I know winter has barely begun... I'm not blind, just in denial), I planted this last fall, about half a dozen new fritillary bulbs (F. pontica, above is already resident). Amongst them will be three different selected, named clones of F. meleagris, the snakeshead fritillary: 'Jupiter', 'Mars', and 'Saturnus'. These three all have large, heavily patterned flowers (Jupiter looks particularly striking in photos). Fritillaries are not easy here; some are too winter tender for Iowa, and many of them are not appreciative of hot, muggy summers. Some like afternoon shade, some full sun; some like a summer baking, some never can dry out. I guess we grow about twenty-five species or cultivars now; I'd go check, but the garden is buried under a foot of snow and ice at present. Anyway, next spring we will be growing thirty-one kinds (I think).
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I would be interested in knowing which 3-4 you find the easiest here in Iowa. I have meleagris alba, which will naturalize, if that is the expression for rebloom and spread. I have had a hard time with the crown imperials. I almost have to treat them like some tulips which are only good for at most the second year.
Inspired by your garden I planted raddeana, in 2007 which was great this past spring. I wait to see how it does this spring.
Thanks for the spring pictures.
Philip... actually imperialis is easy here; I think sun and really good drainage (I have them on slopes) are the requirements. Acmopetala is overall the easiest (multiplies rapidly). Nigra isn't seen much but is easy, pontica isn't bad, and pallidiflora is about like raddeana. By the way, watch out for really bad late freezes with raddeana; cover it.
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