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.’