In Which We All Go Crazy Over Fritillaries

I will be the first to admit that I have been stalking the orange fritillaries that are blooming at the Arboretum. They are tall and majestic and weird looking. These are all admirable qualities in a plant. A fan of all things strange and beautiful, I visit them often.

When I stop at the Arboretum in the mornings, I sometimes run into a man and a woman who are walkers. They walk all over the place in the mornings. Somehow, we frequently meet at the lily pond, where (in warmer months) we coo jointly over whatever is blooming. I have never asked their names.

On Monday morning, I ran into them by the grand bulb display near the Arboretum's Sundial. I was photographing the fritillaries, and they immediately began to talk to me about the plants, gesturing excitedly.

"They're called fruit-something," the woman said, "But I can't remember the rest."
"Fritillaries," I replied, happy in my plant knowledge.
"Ah, fritillaries," she repeated after me. And nodded, smiling, as though I'd unlocked a puzzle.
"There are more of them on campus," the man offered. "Yellow ones, below the library on the mall. They are about a week and a half ahead of these."
"Thank you," I replied, "I will be sure to look them up."

My travels took me onto campus on this gorgeous spring morning, and I did look them up. And they are spectacular indeed. There is a rather large display of fritillaries on the mall below Pattee, between Sparks and Burrowes (which is to say, they are blooming in Liberal Arts land).

And so I was kneeling on the ground, as I am wont to do, photographing the fritillaries (fritillaria imperialis, to be more specific, sometimes referred to as the crown imperial). And I saw rather than heard a man shouting and gesturing at me. I removed my earbuds.

"WHAT ARE THEY?" he was asking. (As though if I were photographing them, I must surely know.)
"FRITILLARIES!" I shouted back.
"What?" he asked.
"Ah," he said, "Imperialis. That makes sense. They ARE very tall." After admiring the large, majestic plants for a moment, he happily walked away.

Earbuds back on. Kneeling back on the ground. In moments, a second man was in front of me, mouthing something. I took my earbuds off.
"Aren't they great?" he said.
"Yes, they are. FRITILLARIES!" I shouted.
"What?" he asked.
"Fritillaria imperialis," I clarified. "They actually keep the moles away."
Happy with his new knowledge about such an amazing AND useful plant, he smiled and nodded. "Well, they're wonderful!"
We parted smiling, new friends brought together over our admiration for a bunch of tall, weird plants.

So here is a photo, just one, of the amazing yellow fritillaries. It actually sort of cracked me up that: 1) I learned about them at the Arboretum, and the knowledge was passed surreptitiously, going down like some kind of clandestine drug deal, but only with information changing hands rather than drugs.

And also: 2) That two men were actually interested enough in the plants to accost me about them while I was taking photos. Clearly, these showy, yellow flowers are attracting attention of all kinds!

So here are the marvelous fritillaries; for this shot, Pattee is behind me and I am facing downtown. I have since learned that there are more yellow ones at the children's garden, Childhood's Gate, and I will quite happily check them out the next time I'm there. Rest assured that I will report back! :-)

Here's a song for a large yellow bloom that invites comment wherever it appears: Donovan, with Mellow Yellow.

Sign in or get an account to comment.