One of my favorite springflowering bulbs is Fritillaria Meleagris. Their nodding chequered Purple-brownish elegant flowers are fascinating. For some years I bought bulbs and planted them in the fall. But come spring I never saw any of them? I wondered what I did wrong, until I read that they prefer acidic moist soil. So I mixed plenty of peat moss in the soil where I planted some new bulbs. The next year a few bloomed and the following year even more bloomed in small groups. I love them - only thing I dislike about them is that they seem to attract red lily beetles - I hate those since I try to grow lilies - with not much succes yet. You can see the traces left by beetles munching on the thin leaves in this picure:
I had also noticed another Fritillaria in some gardens around here - Fritillaria persica. The very large orange sized bulbs produce upright 2-3 feet tall flowerstalks with purple-brownish bell-shaped flowers:
I planted the bulbs in the fall, a place with very well drained soil and where they get plenty of sun - as recommended. I saw them shooting in March and looked forward to seeing them blooming. But no - they only produced foot tall stalks, with blind shoots? I wonder why they did not bloom? Perhaps they just need to get settled in and will bloom next year?
Few plants smell like wonderful childhood memories like violets. The native violet: Viola Odorata may be small and few pay much attention to it. But after a few weeks of bright sunny spring days a little rain is usually going to fall, and the scent of the violets is going to be released and carry on air. Many have noticed the divine scent of violets wafting in the air after a spring shower - expressed in Al Jolson's song, "April Showers.":
Though April showers May come your way, They bring the flowers That bloom in May; And if it's raining, Have no regrets; Because, it isn't raining rain, you know, It's raining violets.
And when you see clouds Upon the hill, You soon will see crowds Of daffodils; So keep on looking for the bluebird, And listening for his song, Whenever April showers come along.
Poets have sung it's praise and the ethereal sweet fragrance is truly remarkable. Pick a few and smell the sweet perfume, that seems to be there one second and gone the next - a perfume like life and love.
Viola Odorata are small evergreen plants, that thrive in dappled shade and where plenty of leaves fall and form compost. Along most hedges they spread willingly and form large clusters. Seeds are also spread by birds and ants. Since I am not a neat freak and appreciate these delicate flowers, I do not consider them a weed. I have come to appreciate their wonderful fragrance and long for the violet rain of spring, that kicks of the garden season, after the snowdrops and crocus have flowered.
Violets interbreed and produce violets of different colours. The most fragrant are the violet blue, but I also see light blue and even blush pink violets. I have also noticed a variety that produces dark leaves. Even the leaves are romantic - heartshaped.
Empress Josephine loved violets. When she married Napoleon Bonaparte, her bridal bouquet contained violets. Violets became Napoleons favorite flower too. When he left for Elba - he told her: " I will return with the violets of spring". On her grave violets were planted and he picked some and kept them in a medalion.