Monday, 23 March 2015

Plantfest - plant purchase for March


Every month I am setting myself the task of buying a plant in flower, as suggested by the late, great Geoff Hamilton, so that, by the end of the year, my garden will have all round colour. It is a burden as you can imagine, but I am learning to cope somehow! I am trying to push out of my own little horticultural comfort blanket, so that I purchase a plant which is completely new to me.

My visit to the nursery this month resulted in the purchase of a plant I have seen before, and has caused me intense plant-envy in the past. It is 'Fritillary Lutea', a luscious, gorgeous thing, which seems far too exotic for the bitter winds of early spring.


A month ago, the nursery yielded little colour, but this visit was completely different, and there was an explosion of pastels. It really lifted the spirits to see so much colour again after the bleakness of winter. I had to discount many of the plants though, as  I have loved (and often lost) them before. The rules are that the plant purchased has to be unknown and ungrown, and much of the colour in the nursery was from primroses, hyacinths and miniature daffs, all of which are very familiar to me.


I was quartering the sales benches, like an eager retriever, when my nose caught an unusual smell which lay heavily around whole area. It was a difficult smell to place, not unpleasant, but equally, not pleasant; reminiscent of something I recognised but was unable to recall. It was very pungent and hung in the air without dissipating. Reader, I should have walked away while I still had the chance ! However, by this time my eye was taken by the huge golden - yellow bells of Fritillary Lutea, and I was hooked. I quickly checked the label for any contra-indications, like soil type etc, but there was nothing to stop me, so into the trolley it went.



A stately, elegant plant, with fleshy green leaves, it looked the epitome of health and vigour. The flowers are borne above long, spear-shaped leaves. This exotic looking plant has a weird little top-knot, almost like a leafy pineapple, set above the flowers, which are downward facing. At the moment the flowers are still in bud, but in a short while they will open to be large bell-like flowers, with white stamens, which protrude from the base. 

I may have inadvertently picked up a couple of other very small plants on the way to the checkouts, I don't really recall! What I do recall is that the cloud of odour travelled with me every step of the way.
It was only when I was talking to the woman on the till, that I realised that the smell was coming from the trolley! It was only when she said;
"Gosh that is one stinky plant!" that the penny actually dropped !
The car journey home was breezy, to say the least, as every window was open to get rid of the strange odour.


To be honest, now this lone plant is not in an enclosed  place, but enjoying the great outdoors, I can barely smell it, just an odd whiff occasionally, when I lean in close. Reading up on it, the smell has been described as "odd" and 'foxy" by others.



(No apologies for dirty hands and compost-filled nails, which had been doing an honest day's work in the greenhouse!!)

The label below gives all the basic information needed to make a plant happy in its new home - it likes any well drained soil in full sun ; is happy in mixed beds and borders; needs water in dry weather (now, there's a surprise!) and enjoys a weekly feed. height is around 90cm, although I have read that it can be more if the plant is truly happy.



Since I got home I have been reading up on my new acquisition, and sadly, feel that a warning has been omitted from the label, to the effect of :

'WARNING ! This plant is considered highly desirable by any self respecting Lily Beetle, which will travel miles to get a mouthful!'

I also feel I should be prepared for this onslaught, and so should erect a big sign next to my Fritillary Lutea, with an arrow on it, saying "All Lily beetles this way. Please form an orderly queue." 

I shall be keeping a vigilant watch, and have my squishing fingers at the ready!




(I was going to grapple with Mr Linky, so that anyone who wished to join in every month, and buy a new plant, could add a link to their blog from here. Sadly, Mr Linky and I grappled to no avail - but you are very welcome to put a link in any comment you may add.)













27 comments:

  1. Yes foxy is the word that I would have suggested if you had not eluded to it Jane :) Still it looks most attractive and perhaps the aroma will lessen or your nose will get accustomed to it. I do hope that the dreaded lily beetle stays clear. I'm waiting for a white martagon lily to emerge and will be mounting a round the clock vigil.

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    1. Hi Anna, I don't know what a Martagon Lily is, so will have to look it up! I do hope your vigil is rewarded!

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  2. They are just not pleasant are they? I made the mistake of planting a few pots of these an a small border that used to be next to the front door, they didn't last long!
    Still, I hope you enjoy your new addition and that those lily beetles stay away Jane. I've almost got a post together, I'll be back midweek with my link.

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    1. Hi Angie, excellent - I will look forward to reading your post and seeing what caught your eye!
      I can't smell it now, so I don't know if I have got used to it, or the wind is carrying the foxy smell far far away!

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  5. I didn't expect the fritillary to have an odour. No doubt lily nettles follow their noses.

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    1. Hi Sue, I must admit that I was surprised! I think I would have expected a sweet, lilyish perfume, if any!

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  6. Yes, definitely a foxy smell but they are so pretty. What your label should have said is that this is a Crown Imperial, Fritillaria imperialis. You can get them in orange too and red. Very pretty. Mine aren' t out yet.
    I would join you in this meme but I could never confine myself to buying just one plant and I don' t want my terrible extravagance revealed to the world. ( And to my husband.)

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    1. Hi Chloris, thanks for that! I didn't know if it was actually a Crown Imperial, as it didn't say so on the label, and I wasn't sure if Crown Imperials are Fritillaria Imperialis, and whether that is the same as Fritillary Lutea. I did debate between the yellow and the orange, and probably would have gone for the red, if there had been any at the nursery.
      I know what you mean about revealing lack of willpower to the world!!

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  7. Despite the 'Perfume' and lily beetle they do add a wow factor to a border. You will have to look out for 'Rex' next.

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    1. Hi Brian, is 'Rex' worth growing ? I will look out for it...

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  8. Yes, good choice for your purchase this month. It does, indeed, look healthy and vigorous. Great blooms AND foliage with this one!

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    1. Hi PP, the foliage looks ridiculously healthy, which is no doubt why it is so attractive to the dreaded Lily Beetle!!

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  9. 'Lily beetles' was my first thought, I do hope your dramatic March purchase escapes. But so hard to resist something so exotic in appearance and bright in colour at any time of year, and particularly now, when we have been aching for more colour for months, it seems. Enjoy, glad to hear it is less stinky in the garden!

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    1. Hi janet, I seem to remember the Lily Beetles appeared solely to eat my 'Snake's Head Fritillaries' last Spring, so I will will not be surprised to see them emerge for a task snack on my new addition!

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  10. It is a lovely plant Jane but mine are decimated by lily beetle every year, they were grown from bulbs, which are best planted on their side apparently, but I have never had one flower due to the extreme damage caused when they emerge. I do hope you are more fortunate with yours in the future.

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    1. Thanks for comments, Rick, that is very interesting. I didn't know the bulbs are planted on their sides. Those crazy Lily beetles just think of ways to outwit us, I am sure !

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  11. Had no idea lily beetles liked these flowers but I tell you, if you have a deer problem they'll leave these alone. I used to have a garden that the deer used like a banquet and bought these plants as I heard they wouldn't touch them. That smell isn't attractive but the flowers sure are and the deer can't stand them.

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    1. Hi Marguerite, deer aren't a problem here, but I know they are for many gardeners, and so it must be great for them to be able to grow something which looks so exotic, but that the deer won't eat.

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  12. I noticed that I seemed to have made the same comment 3 times above Jane. I was using my phone to read, I think that may have been the problelm. I've deleted them now.
    Here's my link for this months post.
    http://mygardenblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/bloom-and-grow-march-2015_26.html

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    1. Hi Angie, a fantastic choice for your monthly purchase. I look forward to seeing them in full flower too, as they look lovely in bud. Thank for the mention and the link !

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  13. Hi Jane, I love your new plant! The color alone is enough to bring a smile. I very naively bought some Asian lilies and the next thing I knew, there were a million red beetles devouring them! The Lilies smelled so wonderful but, I'm hesitant to do battle with the beetles....I'll be interested to see how you hold them off....

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    1. I think my squishing finger and thumb will be overused in keeping number s down ! i only spray very very occasionally if I am in danger of losing something !

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  14. This is a plant I've never grown before but I did know about the foxy smell, I don't suppose it will be as noticeable once it's outside in the ground. I get lily beetles on my snakeshead fritillary so I suppose any member of the lily family is fair game to them. They're quite exotic looking plants though so I'm sure this will be a welcome addition to your garden.

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    1. Hi Jo, I can't smell it now it is not in a confined space, so it is not a problem. It is too cold for Lily Beetles at the moment, but once it warms up... I will be waiting !!

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  15. Think they should have mentioned the 'scent' on the label too. It's very attractive and I can see why it took your fancy. Good luck with the lily beetles. ;)

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