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FritillariesBOOK REVIEWS

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Fritillaries

By Kevin Pratt and Michael Jefferson-Brown
Published by David Charles (UK) and Florilegium (Australia and New Zealand)
Hardback $NZ69.95; Paperback $NZ49.95

Reviewed by Gordon Collier, Titoki Point, Taihape

This attractive book is a worthy companion to the other titles already published in the series, viz Hellebores, hardy Geraniums, Lilies, Hostas and Ivies. It is the first for over 50 years to be devoted to Fritillaries, that most exquisite flowering bulb, and while not posing as a monograph of that genus it achieves the stated purpose of acting as a practical guide to growers and non growers alike.

The authors have had many years experience as growers of fritillaries and freely share their knowledge with readers. Kevin Platt is the English holder of the National collection of Fritillaries and writes with authority. Together they write in a language easily understood by gardeners and in explaining botanical technicalities take care not to baffle their following. Simple black and white drawings and superb colour photographs back up the written word and are an enormous help with identification of these somewhat confusing bulbs.

The book gives detailed information on botany, cultivation, soils, propagation, and planting of fritillaries. Many who grow their prize bulbs in containers will find the section on pot culture particularly useful. The authors believe that plastic pots rather than clay may be best for these plants.

The chapters on Fritillaries in the wild and in North America are fascinating.

The second part of the book is devoted to an A-Z listing nearly 100 species containing information on history, botanical status, availability, behavior in cultivation, and cultural requirements. This will be an invaluable quick reference. Collectors will be inspired to greater efforts but many of these species we can only dream about. While some information such as "where" to buy and see (fritillaries) will frustrate southern hemisphere gardeners, the appendices with which the authors conclude provide a useful resource.

All who grow these enchanting plants will find this superbly illustrated book seductive reading. I recommend it and look forward to future volumes — Galanthus, Erythroniums, and Trilliums perhaps??

New Zealand Garden Journal: Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture 2000 3(1): 21-22

Available from Touchwood Books

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