Sunday, April 22, 2007
After a gloriously sunny, warm and windy day Saturday, today brought frequent thundershowers, wind and rain ... welcome rain, I might add, since I spent several hours out yesterday cleaning up about half of the front boulder beds. It was the perfect capper for all the flowers just getting going after a really cold last few weeks, just the thing to get them out from under their wraps (now removed thanks to my efforts yesterday) and ready to take on the season.
But, as you've no doubt seen me lament recently, the bulb extravaganza just was unable to equal last year's display ... even though most of the tulips are bravely blooming, they're stunted and fallen down, nowhere near their usual potential. And there are a few flowers just plain missing in action this year, notably among them, two of our recently acquired Fritillaria Imperialis species. This one is Rubra, a rich orange to red variety that starts out and finishes looking a bit like some very stalky kind of pineapple. The joys of Fritillarias are addictive ... we've just begun collecting them a couple of years ago, and already have several more species we hope to add next fall.
As the larger bulbs go, they're pretty easy to get established, though that two weeks of deep freezer weather seems to have put them down for this year. Although we may yet be surprised, we've pretty much given up on seeing any blooms from them. So these two shots are from exactly a year ago today ... 22 April, 2006, where they were enjoying near perfect blooming conditions.
Though their bloom span is relatively short (about a week or so depending on the heat factor), they're hard to beat for sheer eye-catching power! No wonder they're commonly referred to as "Crown Imperials," because the majesty of the flowers and the sheer size of the plant (this one made it to about 24") just beg royal comparisons I guess. No matter, they're a great treat when they bloom and leave you wanting more ... in fact, the whole Fritillaria family has such a variety of sizes and blooming habits, (not to mention unusual coloration), that every serious gardener should consider making room for them in a prominent spot in the perennial border ... even though their appearance is brief each year, it is far from mundane.
For further information on the Fritillaria genus, here's the link to the very worthwhile Wikipedia entry on them.