April fritillaries

First fritillaries flowering just after Easter.

First fritillaries just after Easter.

As the first delicately marked mauve flowers opened just after Easter, I decided to do a census of the fritillaries in the meadow this year. Using the prunings from the cornus sibirica on the far side of the pond, I marked each plant or group of plants with a twig. There were about 70 in the end marking some 85 plants – definitely an increase on what was here when we arrived. They have quite a wide spread over the dampest parts of the meadow. I have been scattering seed from the existing plants each year but four plants are newly established at the far end of the pond where no seed was scattered, so how did they get there? There are four plants in the paths I regularly mow through the meadow, several more alongside the path from the gate to the house and quite a number in land which was disturbed, trampled and driven over by our builders in 2009. Ginny, our next door neighbour who has lived here for many years, has found that fritillaries have established themselves for the first time and very rapidly over the past two years in her shady orchard – she now has over 100 plants. We both wonder how this has come about.