Auriculas of 2015, part 3

2016’s auriculas are already almost finished — lots of good pictures to come … eventually. First, a final few from last year.


A very striking red border auricula from Barnhaven seed.


This flower opens pale yellow and takes on pink hues as it ages. Seed came from the American Primrose Society winter seed exchange.


This plant is from seed (from the Friends of the Devonian Botanic Garden, back when they used to produce an annual seed list) collected from an open-pollinated plant, so it’s not possible to say whether it is an example of the species or a hybrid. Given the number of hybrid auriculas in the DBG, it is quite likely a hybrid, but it has a wild (uncultivated) alpine look about it, the yellowest yellow flowers, and the sweetest lemon-cake fragrance.


This flower and the next several are from seed from hand-pollinated show plants. Show auriculas are supremely beautiful, but precious few of their offspring are worthy of a place alongside them on the exhibition bench. This one certainly is not.


If this plant, given another year or two, can produce a truss of several blooms, it could be worth keeping.


Here is another poor, sad-clown stripe.


A very excited late-season first-time bloomer.


I like this one. But it is taking its sweet time developing into a plant of any reasonable size or substance.


DSCN0004A dark red and white stripe blooming in October as autumn leaves fall around it.


This one needs another year or two to settle down (stop fighting with itself) and decide what it wants to be.


DSCN0117This  badly formed double looks like two or three doubles fused together. Fasciation, perhaps?


At last, a good one. Precise parentage unknown (seed from one of the plants I pollinated in 2012).




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Auriculas of 2015, part 2


Double auricula 'Fred Booley'

Double auricula ‘Fred Booley’


This new seedling is from seed out of Arundel Stripe. The colour is dull and weak (“horse flesh” again?) and the paste (white ring) is thin and spotty, a sprinkling rather than a thick layer. Yet there may be reason to keep a poor plant like this.

The desirable qualities of its parents could show up in the next generation. And it might fit nicely, in a mass auricula planting, among flowers in faded or antique-looking yellows, browns, and purples.


Primrose Path

Primrose Path

A narrow strip, not more than 15 cm, between the sidewalk and the fence is packed with seed-grown auriculas. After three or four years, they are spilling onto the sidewalk. Now they need to be dug, divided, and replanted.

Next, some of the best of the shaded purples and blues (dark colour fading, or brightening, at the edges).

This next one is a freak. It’s worth keeping for a couple of reasons (in addition to its being a freak). The colours — under the meal (white powder or farina), there is a light green, some yellow, pink, maybe orange (click to enlarge). The protruding stigma will be easy to pollinate, making this potentially a good seed parent. As a first-time bloomer, it deserves at least one more year to show what it can do.

But what, or whose, pollen to dab onto those super-eager stigmas?

Here is a new seedling that tried to bloom in October, and almost opened a bud before the days got too short and the nights too cold.

From what we can see, it is thrum-eyed (pollen-bearing parts prominent, unlike the flowers above, which are pin-eyed and have the pollen-receiving part prominent); the flowers have a light green edge under a coating of farina, red and orange stripes, and a good wide, if somewhat granular, paste. Another possible pollen parent could be ‘Parakeet’ — pointed petals with a farinose green edge, orange and yellow striped body, good solid paste. ‘Parakeet’ doesn’t bloom every year for me. I have a few pieces of it in different parts of the garden, trying to find a spot it likes. If either of these is in bloom at the same time as the pink and green pin, they could be an interesting match.


Dark self show auricula 'Nocturne'

Dark self show auricula ‘Nocturne’

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Auriculas of 2015, part 1

Pictures in order of bloom time, beginning in early May. (Click to enlarge.)

The first auricula to bloom was this potted seedling which had over-wintered in the cold frame. The seed came from the light blue border auricula ‘Chehalis Blue.’ The colour on this one is hard to describe. My camera didn’t ever capture it accurately, always wanting to make it brighter, more vivid.

It’s a sort of weak pinkish, bluish, reddish purple. It immediately reminded me of an article I’d recently read about the history of primrose culture, and the description a 17th-century primrose enthusiast gave to a disappointing red — “a dull horse flesh hue.”

Had I raised a dull horse flesh auricula? Unfit for the garden and destined for the compost bin? Not a promising start to the season. But every time I walked past the plant, it caught my eye, made me stop and look at it again.

Today’s marketers would call the colour “dusky” or “smoky.” If it’s horse flesh, it’s triple-A 120-day dry-aged tenderloin.

It has  ‘Chehalis Blue’s’ large flowers, lots of them, and a hint of its colouring — just at the edges, in the right light (light that, sadly, makes the other colours look washed out). I started fresh seed from it, and could have flowering seedlings this spring.


This is a second seedling from ‘Chehalis Blue’ parentage. It is a more acceptable-looking garden auricula. In two or three years, it should be a very striking plant.


This one and the next are also my own seedlings. I have raised several plants from seed out of a cross of Primula x pubescens ‘Cream Viscosa’ and a light yellow garden auricula, two of the very few plants I owned at the time. (Pubescens ‘Cream Viscosa’ must be one of the most unpleasant, unappealing names ever given to a plant. A perfectly nice little plant, too.) Every year, of the past three or four, a few more of these seedlings have come into their first bloom. Often they are very bright and deep pinks. This is one of the best so far.

Seed from ‘Cream Viscosa,’ not surprisingly, has also produced small, cream-coloured plants. I don’t know the other parent of these, and don’t recall whether they are a group of seedlings or divisions of a single plant.  They look a lot alike.


In April, I received a shipment of auriculas from the UK. Even after a week in a box, a few of the plants managed to bloom in May. This one is the alpine auricula ‘Harry Hotspur.’ Below is the fancy auricula ‘Fleet Street.’

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Primula marginata, spring, 2015

Primula marginata 'Herb Dickson' (and, behind the rock, a Draba, possibly Draba aizoides).

Primula marginata ‘Herb Dickson’ (and, behind the rock, a Draba, possibly Draba aizoides).


‘Herb Dickson’ was my first Primula marginata. It has appeared on the blog several times.

A great plant, it blooms early and spends the summer bulking up and spreading out so that it can return with twice as many flowers the next year.

DSCN0052 (2)I don’t know whether ‘Herb Dickson’ is a selection or a hybrid. (Does anyone know?)

My next marginatas were this pair of unnamed seedlings (I presume).The pink pin-eyed flowers are not as nice, in colour or form, as the slightly bluer thrum-eyed flowers behind. However, they are easier to get seed from.

Plants with these sharply toothed, farinose leaves and a rounder, bluer flower would be very nice.

I did get a decent amount of good-looking seed this year, after pollinating with ‘Herb Dickson’ and ‘Mauve Mist’ and the little one behind.

Speaking of ‘Mauve Mist’: I have had this for two years but don’t remember any flowers last year. I was expecting  “mauve” to be a lighter purple. Is my ‘Mauve Mist’ an imposter?

Primula marginata 'Mauve Mist'

Primula marginata ‘Mauve Mist’


I get a few seeds out of ‘Herb Dickson’ each year, very few, and from those, two or three may germinate and grow into plants. These next pictures show a few hybrids with P. marginata ‘Herb Dickson’ parentage. The other parent, if I remember right (the tags are under snow now), is a light yellow garden auricula.

This is an early spring bloomer, like ‘Herb Dickson’ and also has that parent’s vigour — it produces offsets quickly and abundantly. The foliage is fleshier, less farinose, and less deeply toothed and the flower colour is a lighter blue, brightened by the yellow centre, which will have come from the auricula side.

The plant rebloomed in October, and the flowers this time were a paler colour.

This plant is taller, and the flower colour is closer to that of ‘Herb Dickson.’ It could turn out to be a nice plant, given another year or two to show what it can do.

This plant has smooth-edged leaves, from the auricula parent.

The flowers are thrum-eyed, and the easily accessible pollen will likely find its way onto a light blue pin, such as ‘Chehalis Blue,’ should they bloom at the same time.


Primula marginata ‘Herb Dickson’ after an early May snowfall.

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Primula elatior, April/May 2015

Primula elatior ssp. meyeri

I am late posting pictures this year. I am going to put them up by species/variety, in more or less chronological order, from April to September.

My six Primula elatior are from one packet of seeds, meant to be subspecies meyeri. They should all be purple, but are two purple, a pink, two near-white, and a yellow.

This summer, I dug and divided them, because I want more, and because I want the bed for border auriculas.

little pink Primula elatior (subspecies meyeri)

little pink Primula elatior (subspecies meyeri)

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