The intriguing flowers pictured are Snake's head fritillary – a rare sight in the wild though cultivated in gardens for their exotic yet delicate look. These are the classic chequered purple variety though some are a ghostly white with just the faintest remains of the same pattern.

If you see them in the wild in the UK then you're very lucky, or you're in one of the few places that has a real concentration of them like the meadow of Magdalen College, Oxford, or the village of Ducklington, also in Oxfordshire.

I planted some bulbs in the garden last year and several (but not all) have come up.

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