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Fritillaria meleagris

The common "Snakeshead Fritillary" is a bulbous perennial with grey green leaves and a stalk bearing pendent, mainly solitary flowers in colours of maroon and white, bearing a chess board pattern. This is a bulb that will happily naturilize in grass providing the soil is damp and not prone to drying out in summer. To aid self seeding, plants should be left until the seed heads ripen and burst ( often as late as the end of June or early July). It goes without saying then that this is not a plant to grow if your main requirement is a manicured lawn. By leaving the grass until late June to cut, the area resembles a meadow by the time you get the mower out. This is not however without its compensations. Despite having to hand weed out dandelions and bitter cress last year while waiting on the fritillaries to set seed, I was rewarded with flax flowers in the small lawn area. These had self seeded from the bird feeders that hang overhead in the old pear tree.

Copyright A Walsh 2002-2007