Lambley Gardens & Nursery, 395 Lesters Road,  Ascot,  Victoria 3364
Phone +61 (03) 5343 4303,  Fax +61 (03) 5343 4257

A Haunting Fritillaria from Hydra

I first saw Fritillaria rhodocanakis blooming in Otto Fauser’s Olinda garden forty years ago. The flower was so extraordinarily beautiful it has haunted me ever since.

Fritillaria rhodocanakisOtto’s bulb was grown from seed collected on Hydra by Paul Furse in the early 1960s. Admiral Furse and his wife Polly collected not only in Greece but also in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Many fine bulbs were brought into cultivation through their work and Iris furseorum a new species of Juno iris, which they collected in north east Afghanistan in 1966, was named in their honour.

This year I’ve finally flowered F. rhodocanakis and it is every bit as beautiful as I’d remembered it.

Four years ago I sowed seed from a collection Marcus Harvey made on Hydra. Two of the resulting seedlings have just flowered.

Seeds of summer dormant bulbs should be sown during autumn. I store seeds in my study at room temperature rather than in the fridge as most of these bulbs come from areas which have hot dry summers.

Sowing Fritillaria and other bulb seed isn’t difficult. This is how I do it.

1. Around about Easter time fill a clean pot (I use a deep 10cm pot) with a good quality potting soil to 1cm from the rim adding a little slow release fertiliser to the surface.

2. Sprinkle seeds on the surface.

Fritillaria argolica3. Cover seeds with washed 5-7mm blue metal. Washing removes the dust.

4. Water well and put in a place where the pot isn’t likely to be knocked over.

5. Germination of Fritillaria takes place the following late winter and early spring when it looks like fine blades of grass.

6. Keep watered during dry spells.

7. When the leaves turn brown and dry off put the pot in a shed for the summer. Don’t water during this time.

Fritillaria ehrhartii8. The following autumn take out of shed and water and fertilise.

9. Growth will start again the following spring.

10. When this growth browns off put the pot back into the shed.

11. The following autumn plant the bulbs 10 cm into a well prepared garden bed, mulch and keep clear of weeds.

12. Bulbs should start flowering two years later.



Many people grow their seedlings in pots to flowering size. There are a few other species which I’ve grown from seed which are flowering for the first time this year. The seed of all of them was sown during the autumn of 2011.

Fritillaria argolica Fritillaria carica
Fritillaria argolica Fritillaria carica
Fritillaria spetsiotica Fritillaria davisii
Fritillaria spetsiotica Fritillaria davisii


Marcus Harvey's New Seed Catalogue for 2015 has just been released