The yellow form of the crown imperial makes a striking punctuation at the entrance to the Woodland Garden.
Occurring in a sweep from Turkey to Kashmir, and growing in cliffs, rocky slopes and scrubs at 1,000 – 3,000m altitude, Fritillaria imperialis, or the crown imperial, is the most statuesque of the fritillaries. Reaching 1m in height, a whorl of pendent, bell-shaped flowers sit beneath an apical whorl (or tuft) of glossy bracts, which give rise to the ‘crown’ in the common name. It is one of the larger species within the genus, whose bulbs can be up to 20cm in diameter, and bear a distinct foxy scent which can often be smelt during flowering. Ordinarily, the flowers are orange in colour, but in the selection ‘Lutea’ they are a pure, brilliant yellow, though both colour forms can be seen here. This species enjoys a humus-rich, well-drained, cool soil and will tolerate shade.