Because the trip took me through St. James Park beside the cathedral, I’m glad I decided to walk to the subway from my meeting yesterday, despite my inappropriate shoes. I won’t dwell on how I suffered.
Instead, I’ll wax mildly poetic about Fritillaria imperialis, the crown imperial fritillaria. What an exotic bulb this is, with its pineapple-like tuft of leaves atop pendant orange (or yellow) bells with their prominent white stamens. Even the stems are decorative; a mottled purple.
Here, I’ll risk using the extra-large photo feature. They really are worth a close look.
Perhaps the only demerit against crown imperials is their scent, if scent we can call it, which is rather skunky. In a large garden, that might not be a problem. In a Microgarden like mine, it could be a little oppressive.
So great to know that all I’ll need to do is head down to King and Church Streets for a bit of a fix.
Crown imperials are a relation of the pretty checkered lily (much nicer name than the snake’s-head lily, by which it is also known; see the link below for other history details from Paghat’s Garden). We saw an enviable display of checkered lilies or Fritillaria meleagris in Barry Parker’s garden last Sunday (pictured here).
Crown imperials like a well-drained soil, good sun, and not too much moisture. Checkered lilies, on the other hand, prefer the semi-shade and moisture of woodland gardens.
At one time, the St. James Cathedral gardens were a project of the Garden Club of Toronto. Unsure if they’re still maintaining the spring display, which is pretty spectactular at the moment. If you happen to be downtown, take a walk and grab some ideas for your own garden. It isn’t too early to be making lists for next year.