2008 Liam and I spent a holiday in the Tien Shan
Mountains of Kazakhstan photographing the
interesting flora and fauna. Towards the end of the
stay our guide had collected some seeds from plants
which had been dug up by wild boars and left to
wither on the roadside. As a memento of our time
there he gave us a few seeds but with no idea what
they were and no guarantee that they would grow.
return home in July I duly sowed the seeds in a
small pot, labelled them ‘Boar Rejects’, and
left them outside against a sheltered north west
wall. Spring 2009 saw tiny monocot seedlings appear.
These were weakly fed and watered and left outside with
similar treatment for another 2 years.
autumn 2011 little bulbs had appeared and were
repotted in several pots and left to grow on –
surviving the severe winters of 2010/11.
2014 there were several reasonable sized plants of
various colours and forms of leaves but still no
flowers. Patience was getting thin and they were
left under the greenhouse bench this time until this
year when once again they were watered as the leaves
appeared in early spring.
last in March 2015 one plant produced flowers and
was finally identified as Fritillaria sewerzowii. It
has distinctive grey-green foliage, unlike any of
the other ‘boar rejects’, and quiet green brown
flowers. I have never seen it growing in the wild
but apparently it grows in scree like conditions on
steep hillsides and woodland edges. There is a
photograph of it taken in the Tien Shan by
Christopher and Başak Gardner in their beautiful
book ‘Flora of the Silk Road’.
Its home is Central Asia, principally in the Tien
Shan and Pamir mountains.
presume the plant is named after the 19th-
century Russian zoologist, N.V. Severtsov, the
father of Turkestan
zoology, who spent years in painstaking study
of the flora and fauna of the Pamirs, a forerunner
of modern ecology.
chance last autumn I got seeds from Gothenburg
Botanic Gardens, including those of F. sewerzowii
and now have a pot of little seedlings – perhaps
they will flower sooner.
feeling that plants are best seen and left in their
natural habitat, as at present I am less able to
explore the wild, it is lovely to have a memory of
them in an Irish garden - with thanks to the wild
boars – and, given patience, who knows what else