Sunday Mirror, Fritillaria

Fritillaria for damp soil. How ridiculous.

From the Author of “The Gardeners Guide To Fritillaria”  Publishers David and Charles 1997

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Adrienne Wild in “The Sunday Mirror” February 26th  has missed a perfect opportunity to write and encourage more planting of Fritillaria. What she has done is read an outdated book review and written about Fritillaria growing in damp soil. Fritillaria can not grow in anaerobic conditions, the bulbs merely sit in a state of animation in anaerobic  soil. Fritillaria in nature can be seen in wet damp soil but they are not growing in ideal conditions and this natural soil varies in dampness from day to day. As the soil moisture fluctuates the bulbs grow in short spurts, the flooding subsides and oxygen in the soil becomes available again. The bulbs elongate and develop on days when soil air is present and close down development when the soil is waterlogged. Fritillaria bulbs are not aquatic, they need soil oxygen to respire otherwise they will ferment in the soil (rot). They can not (as Adrienne Wild suggests) grow if they are planted in “soggy areas”. Now if one was to plant Fritillaria meleagris in any free draining  soil, left undisturbed and allowed to grow in a mixed border they would grow so fast after five years they would be seeding around the garden. In a previous house near Stockport we planted 100 bulbs twelve years ago, now there must be over two thousand flowering bulbs. I also enjoy pointing out the Stockport soil is sandy, another contradiction to Adrienne Wild. Fritillaria dislike movement around the bulbs and enjoy free draining soil and don’t plant them shallow, they need at least 10cm of soil above the bulbs.

Adrienne Wild could have been better advised to write,

Snake’s Head Fritillary. Delicate, trembling snake’s head Fritillaria grows naturally in damp meadows, however if you want this perfect choice for your garden, plant them in any well drained garden soil, leave them undisturbed and they will soon naturalise in your garden.

Kevin Pratt

Author of “The Gardeners Guide To Fritillaria”  Publishers David and Charles 1997

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