In some years different plants do better than others. In my garden this year is the spring for primulas and today’s crop shows off some of the strong colours that I have been enjoying. Notably the blues are deep and stand outÂ due to the contrasting yellow eyes. Yes to quoteÂ our former speaker John BercowÂ ‘the eyes have it, the eyes have it’.
Why better looking than in previous years?
A wet and mild winter has favoured the primulas and produced lush leaves and masses of bloom.
The ground I have photographed is largely dedicated to these plants with a few interlopers and weeds.
The original stock is a few years old and a process of selection must have been going on without me realising.
From last year the soil was in good heart in terms of texture and fertility.
I think I tried harder and provided more TLC as I also got good results of primulas in ornamental pots.
What to do after Spring
I am not confident that next spring will look as good but I see that copious water has helped so if winter is dry I will augment with mulch or extra water.
I will resist the temptation to split the clumps to get lots of new plants. I will mark out a couple of larger favourits and may split off some roots.
I will look after the semi-dormant plants as they loose some robustness through summer and give a liquid fertiliser boost before autumn.
It has been a good spring for auriculas in my garden and cold greenhouse. Now the plants need time to rejuvenate after flowering so I will have time to read the National Auricula and Primula and Society’s excellent new members handbook and some of the following epistles.
The powder blue auricula is in a home made ‘tufa’ pot
Auricula Book Examples
The Auricula: History, Cultivation and Varieties Allan Guest
Every now and then I decide to focus on one species or plant group. For 2014/2015 it is going to be the Auriculas. I need to practice the techniques explained in various books and learn’ what is what’ with florists Auricula. With that in mind I have joined the National Auricula and Primrose Society northern section and so far it seems very good value for money.
On to the books I am looking out for:
Auriculas – Their Care and Cultivation B.Hyatt Cassell, London.
Auriculas Through the Ages: Bear’s… by Patricia Cleveland-Peck
Auriculas for Everyone: How to Grow and Show Perfect Plants by Mary A. Robinson
Auriculas and Primroses by W.R. Hecker (22 Apr 1971)
Primroses and Auriculas Wisley Handbook by Peter Ward
The Auricula: History, Cultivation and Varieties by Allan Guest …
This spring has been a good one for my Auriculas. I have been please with a powder blue flower that I hope to propagate by division in July. First I will water well and add some dilute feed.
These Alpine Auriculas look excellentÂ when grown in 3 inch pots. The ‘Long Tom’ pots are silghtly taller than the traditional pot and are useful as Auricula tend to grow a ‘carrot root’ used to anchor the plant in the wild. Alpine Auriculas have either a golden yellow or cream centre surrounding the tube.
Show Auriculas are considered to be the star Auricula plants and must have a ring of dense Farina around the eye of the flower. Selfs (all one colour) and Edges including most stripes have an outside edge composed of leaf tissue such as the ‘Orlando’ a grey edged show Auricula. Green edges usually have larger flowers. Stripes have recently been reintroduced with Monmouth Star having red petals with yellow rays out to the flowers edge.
Double Auricula ‘Sibsey‘Â is a blue to purple flower and can be found at Specialist grower Angus Auriculas. Doubles arise from mutations of border or garden Auriculas and were amongst the first novelties cultivated and shown. There is now an increasing number of doubles including striped doubles at NAPS shows.Â The Fantasia variety is deep maroon with white frosting a real eye-catcher
Border or Garden Auriculas have old names like Dusty Miller, Recklasses and Ricklers. Only a fewÂ have ‘Farina’ the white powder found on leaves and flowers that resembles flour or meal which is a must on Show Auriculas.Â Some are European primula hybrids and occasional are scented. Best grown in a position that gives them shade from midday sun. Water in very dry spells but plant in well drained soil. Ideal for partially shaded positions on rockeries or borders, or spring flower beds, pots, tubs
‘Kinlough Beauty’ is an exceptionally hardy Primrose from the Primula family. . To maintain vigour divide ‘Kinlough Beauty’ every couple of years or so after blooming. This is when your free plants arise. I have just got nine new healthy plants from one clump. Other primroses can be divided in a similar manner.
To divide a primrose separate new crowns with some roots from the old root. Pull apart or prise loose with two forks back to back.
Alternatively take divisions with a trowel whilst plants are still in the ground for more reliable performance.
Do not split into too many divisions as they take longer to establish.
Plant firmly in soil and keep moist as new roots are established.
Kinlough Beauty is a hardy evergreen or semi-evergreen Juliana cultivar with deep green, oval leaves 6 inches long. Plants produce loose clusters of wine red to rose-pink yellow eyed flowers held above a mound of foliage.
Plant labeling of primrose family can be a bit hit and miss. …
If you are looking for a show stopping display of spring flowers then why not try planting Â primary colours of Red, Blue and Yellow in the same bed.
A sweeping display of blocks of colour contrasting with the other primary colours can have a stunning effect. Over planting with primary-coloured annuals will help the design continue through summer. This list starts off with bulbs in the primary colours but you can use whatever takes your fancy,Â as you will see, I like Polyanthus.
Small early red Tulips are Daylight and Show-winner.
For elegant Tulip shapes try Fosteriana Red Emperor, Charles or the more muted Rosy Dream.
Abba and Carlton are doubles to sing about.
Appledorn, Hollands Glory and Red Impressions remind you where most tulips come from but Barbados is a stunning fringed red to add to your selection.
Blues avoiding Purples
Muscari Azureum or other Grape Hyacinths are some of the best blues. I like Blue Spike, Super Star and Valerie Finnis.
Hyacinths, Crystal Palace, Blue Star, Delft Blue, Ostara and Kronos are just some of the blue varieties to try. Personally I would not bother with the yellow Hyacinths such as City of Harlem
Camassia, Chinodoxa and Anemone ‘Lord Lieutenant’Â are varied bulbs flowering blue.
Dutch Iris are some of the finest blue flowers, Hildegard and Sapphire Blue. Iris reticulata, Joyce and Cantab are also well worth growing.
Yellow Aconites to Zantedeschia
For something a bit different try yellow Iris Danfordiae, Fritilliaria Raddena or Ixia Yellow Emperor.
Crocus species Chrysanthus Dorothy, Fuscotinclus and Romance are small yellow crocus whilst Golden Mammoth is just what it says, Golden and Mammoth.
Jonquilla Daffodills grow to about one foot and bloom freely. Baby Moon, Trevithian and the double Pencrebar are worth trying.
King Alfred did more than burn the cakes he had ‘the’ yellow Daffodil named after him.
Tamara, Carlton and Fortune are worthy substitutes