lblanchard: (swannfountain)
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[This is another in what has now become an almost-weekly series of postings inspired by Abigail Rorer, Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer's Short Guide to Worthless Plants. Rorer's book includes prints of fourteen plants Farrer considered worthless-- an interesting hybrid of botanically accurate and...different. You can see her work, including all fourteen mimpish squinnies, here: ]

Okay, this one is definitely mimpish -- and Reginald Farrer says so. He uses almost all his favorite terms of opprobrium here: mimpish, miffy, dingy, and even stinking (which the Fritillaria certainly do). For this one, Rorer depicts the plant holding its head in shame -- and, as she has given me permission to post her images with a back-link, I'm retrofitting some of my older posts as time permits:

Fritillaria armena, as envisioned by Abigail Rorer.
Click the image to reach her website.

But here is F. armena for real, in some photographic splendor:

A wonderful shot of F. armena, from the Scottish Rock Garden Club's's bulb log for March 3, 2009.
Click the link for all kinds of flowery goodness:

Fritillaria.--A lovely race, but adequately coped with by catalogues of such delights, except that they always follow the mistake of the Bot. Mag., Plate 6365, in giving the name of F. armena to a charming cone-bellied yellow Fritillary, whose real name is F. Sibthorpiana, whereas the true F. armena is a dingy and lurid purple-flowered plant of lower stature. Many of the race are very miffy or very mimpish or both, and the family all around has a bad character. Among those members of it, however, who have earned a better, comes first our own F. Meleagris in its many forms and seedings, standing high among the best of all; F. pallidiflora is of more stalwart stature, with beautiful solid white bells, freely produced from a bulb of good sound perennial temper; F. lutea, of half a foot, has single golden flowers; F. aurea, of half the size, has half-sized golden bells; and catalogues will be your sufficient guide to such of the rest as may be for the moment available -- so long as it is remembered that the catalogues do not always emphasize the miffy temper of the prizes they proclaim; and that a nod ought to be as good as a wink to a blind gardener, accordingly, in the way of "should have sand" or "is best if planted early." Not to mention -- a fact which catalogues rarely do -- that an enormous number of Fritillarias have more or less stinking bells of dingy chocolate and greenish tones, which often appear transfigured by the enthusiasm who desire to get rid of them, as "rich purple" or "amaranthine violet." --The English Rock-Garden, Vol. 1, pp. 355-356

Here is one of the not-squinnies -- the lovely Fritillaria meleagris, shown here blooming at Magdalen College, Oxford. I saw them blooming there in the 1990s, starring the meadow along the River Chertwell between the College and the Fellows' Garden, and I imagine that Farrer might have seen them during his time at Balliol as well.

From Wikipedia: By The original uploader was Miles underwood at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by djsasso., CC BY-SA 2.5,

This is the plant Google returned to me when I searched for F. lutea, but I suspect it's the wrong one: the breathtaking Fritillaria imperialis 'lutea'. Since I can't find the wee thing with a single yellow flower, just enjoy this bit of flowery goodness.

By UpstateNYer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

And here is the "lovely Fritillaria sibthorpiana":

Fritillaria sibthorpiana (Sm.) Baker [as Tulipa sibthorpiana Sm.]
Sibthrop, J., Smith, J.E., Flora Graeca (drawings), vol. 4: t. 30 (1823)

(I had this all prepared and ready to go on the real Mimpish Monday, and then I forgot!)

Date: 2016-10-04 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know I'm weird but I rather like the dark purply maroon of this mimpish one.

But I do think that the star of Fritillaria is the Fritillaria meleagris which I have also seen blooming in England.

Date: 2016-10-05 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I knew you would (like the purple Fritillaria, that is). I love F. meleagris, too.

Date: 2016-10-05 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
P.s. I hope you followed the link to Rorer's take on the plant.

Date: 2016-10-05 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I did indeed...hanging their heads in shame!

Date: 2016-10-04 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Some people are just never satisfied. "Lurid purple" is all wrong, but so are subtle enough purples, which are simply characterized as "dingy chocolate."

I love the checkered fritillaria. Some will grow here if given sufficiently well-drained conditions. People plant them on the boulevard where they're surrounded with concrete, and they seem very happy.


Date: 2016-10-05 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like the blanket condemnation of "and the whole race has a bad character." Plus they are both very mimpish and very miffy. But F. meleagris is a joy. I also kind of like the gaudy Crown Imperials, too, and they stink so bad the squirrels won't touch them.

Date: 2016-10-05 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also...did you see Rorer's take? Made me laugh.

Date: 2016-10-05 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The crown imperials are just awesome. If they look like that, they can stink if they want to. I seem to have missed them in England, but I saw them at Shaw's Gardens in St. Louis long ago. I thought they were far in the back of the border because of their height, but I wonder if it was also an attempt to reduce the effect of the stink.


Date: 2016-10-05 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I did. It cracked me up. They look exactly as if Reginald Farrer is standing there reading his description of them aloud. They look abject and miserable.


Date: 2016-10-05 02:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Abigail Rorer really loves Farrer's writings. We had quite an email exchange about it while I was ordering C. tibeticum. Which looks splendid on our living room mantel and we may only change it out for my framed and embroidered Christmas tree in December. (We change out a lot of photos in December, too...)


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