One of the most unusual bulbs, Fritillaria meleagris, is currently in bloom at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI. Common names include Checkered Lily, Snakes Head Lily and Guinea Hen Flower, but no matter what it is called, it is a delight.
Reliably hardy in Wisconsin, this form of Fritillaria thrives in zones 3 through 8 with unusul shades of purple, gray and also pure white. They are easy to grow, plant the small bulbs in the fall for flowering the following spring. If it is a dry summer, plan to water occasionally. Like most bulbs, they prefer a well drained soil rich in organic matter with shade to partial sun conditions.
To find them in bloom at Olbrich, go to the meadow garden which is near the Sunken Garden. If you need help finding the garden, either follow the signs or purchase a map of the property for a quarter. After they are done blooming, they are deadheaded but the foliage is allowed to turn yellow over time. This action results in nutrients being stored in bulbs, waiting for the following spring to bloom again.
You can find Guinea Hen Flower bulbs on line through McClure and Zimmerman. McClure and Zimmerman is an excellent quality bulb company which is located not far from Madison, in Randolph, Wisconsin. Expect to find great quality, excellent prices (the Checkered Lily bulbs are bargain priced starting at 24 bulbs for 8.95) and also unusual bulbs not commonly found in retail shops. Their website is http://www.mzbulb.com. You can request a catalog, see on line specials and get inspiration.