A good day yesterday at the autumn meeting of the Fritillaria Group. This is a genus so fascinating to the plants-person for its wide diversity in form and habitat, and often beauty and subtle elegance, that it draws you in even if many are not so easy to grow. Christopher Grey-Wilson spoke on the great variety of species he has encountered in extensive botanical travelling around the world and Bob Wallis on 'The Yellow Bells of SW Turkey' where there is a high level of endemism on isolated mountains close to the Mediterranean. Pretty specialised for those less experienced and knowledgeable about the genus such as myself, but still fascinating for the ecology of these places and many of the more familiar plants that grow along with the fritillaries. Where else too would you find really well grown rarer bulbs and plants such as Paeonia clusii, Iris stolonifera, Allium schubertii, and the new hybrids (from crosses with related species) of Fritillaria imperialis available for sale? (these from Norman Stevens and Jacques Amand).
I didn't take a camera to this meeting but here is my take on the spring meeting in 2015 when many flowering plants were on show and Martyn Rix, amongst others, spoke on the genus: http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/diaries/Kent/+April+/662/
Interesting too was Paul Cumbleton's introduction to the Fritillaria Group website: www.fritillaria.org.uk
which includes a Forum similar to the SRGC Forum and gives a great opportunity to share experiences in cultivating the genus. Gillian said to me that the talks were very much over her head, and in many ways they were for me too even though I have read about and seen examples of many fritillarias. We don't grow a great number of bulbs and they are a subject in themselves. None the less the great appeal of the Group is as much for the friendly atmosphere and the really knowledgeable and gifted plants-people who belong to it, and the way these plants are valued and understood, just as we find for many other plants. Whether we will grow many choice fritillarias in the future is a moot point but it is an extremely fascinating genus for the reasons I give above, and I am sure we will try more in the garden with a better idea of where they may prosper.
Perhaps most interesting of all was talking to Laurence Hill whose detailed studies of the genus Fritillaria on his website:www.fritillariaicones.com
are extraordinarily comprehensive and beautifully presented, showing the wide variation within individual species - which is often not apparent to most gardeners who have not seen plants in Nature - and details of their life cycles and morphology. For the botanist, plants-person, and especially nurseryman or anyone who grows and propagates plants from seed extensively, his work has a strong resonance.