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The Lordly 'Crown Imperial' or 'Fritillaria imperialis' - Some Truly Epic History

The very name 'Crown Imperial' conjures up pomp and pageantry. Indeed, this regal plant is among the first ornamental species to be cultivated by humankind. We take a journey across the centuries to uncover the interesting history of these fascinating plants. From Turkey and Kashmir to Europe The Fritillaria or Crown Imperial originated in the middle east, and there it may have remained were it not for Carolus Clusius and his collection of beautiful and unusual plants. Midway through the 16th century, Clusius planted the first Crown Imperial bulbs in his Hortus botanicus gardens at Leiden. Today, these gardens are maintained by Leiden University, and as one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, they are well worth a...

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Grape Hyacinths: The Versatile Spring Standby You Absolutely Should Have

Whether you’re going for a prize-winning formal garden or want to create a natural woodland look, the Muscari or Grape Hyacinth is a plant you can’t ignore. Perfect in pots, it can be dotted around in lawns to create a flower meadow or massed for a striking effect. What should you do with Muscari? It seems that your creativity will be the only limit. The best news is how easy Muscaris are to grow Sometimes, we get ambitious with untried plants and face disappointment, but Muscari are among the easiest plants to grow. All they need is well-drained soil which, by the way, should not be too rich. A neutral to slightly acid soil pH is best, but since most...

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Tulip Queen of Night: Garden Royalty

Tulips have come a long way from being just a handful of species introduced into Europe from central Asia. Selective breeding and incredible genetic diversity have led to a rainbow of colours and flower forms. But although all but a few specialists can claim to know all the varieties that have sprung from these humble beginnings, certain varieties are universally recognized as being among the most remarkable flowers ever. Of these, Tulip Queen of Night is the name that’s on everybody’s lips. Tulip Queen of Night graces top ten lists across the internet, features in almost every article written about tulips and has inspired hundreds of paintings and thousands of photographs. Is it new? Is this tulip really black? The answer...

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Ornithogalum: the must-have garden plant you didn’t know about

Talk tulips, and everybody gets the picture. Write poetry about daffodils, and you could be immortalized in the annals of literature, but say “Onithogalum”, and your friends probably won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Use this to your advantage by adding an element of surprise to your flower garden. Soon, your friends will be trying hard to say that long name just so that they can get the plants and emulate your success. But what are these plants with the five-syllable name? Why should you grow Ornithogalum bulbs, and why will you be so thrilled with the result? We explore an underused garden plant that deserves more attention from gardeners. Does “Star of Bethlehem” ring a bell? No,...

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Growing Polianthes or Tuberose Bulbs for a Fragrant Garden

We usually associate the sweetest floral fragrances with spring, but summer can be just as fragrant. One of the best plants to achieve this is the regal Polianthes or Tuberose. It’s not to be confused with the Polyanthus Primula, but though the names may be similar, the growth habit and blooms are vastly different. The Tuberose is a tall, elegant bulbous plant with pink or white blooms. Its scent is reminiscent of Gardenias, and it was once widely used as a basis for perfumes. But its association with humankind goes back a long way. Historical facts make Tuberoses even more appealing Explorers brought the first Polianthes bulbs to Europe from Mexico, and we can only imagine how impressed they must...

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