Saturday, January 28, 2012


Gold laced polyanthus 
Yesterday the weather was at its best, so we decided to go out, and ended up in a garden centre, at this time of the year the plants with flowers on offer are very limited but primroses and polythanthus deck the stands. My eye is caught by the pale lemon of the wild primrose and a gold laced polythanus, which has the label of a wilding, not too sure about that. But it reminds me of the Barnhaven strains of primrose. I must have planted so many of these plants over the year, the little dark 'Wanda' that interbred with the pale primrose and threw up insipid pink plants. Cowslips I planted round the walnut tree, and of course in the wild they breed with the wild primrose to produce the common oxlip.  The double petalled Barnhaven primroses, lavender coloured for preference are beautiful, but expensive to buy if you lose them.
Rather empty  late afternoon

The leat that always floods in winter, gypsy horses grazing in the background
So we finished the day at the Fox and Raven for a meal, which we did not actually enjoy, but the ambience is pleasant enough, and as dusk came my love spied a heron coming in to land by the old leat to the mill.

Delving further into primroses, brings to mind Gertrude Jekyll, and her description of a "the Primrose garden in season a river of gold and silver flowering through a copse of silver stemmed young birch for a hundred yards or more" 
and to read on.... the primroses were the celebrated Munstead Strain developed by crossing the variety Golden Plover with a very pale, almost white polyanthus found un a cottage garden, see below
Taken from the Gardener's Essential - Gertrude Jekyll

William Robinson in an English Flower Garden writes reams on the subject of these alpine flowers, much treasured in his time,  many polyanthus and the auriculas were cultivated as 'florist' flowers from the 18th C, so a few illustrations from his book will suffice, illustrations seem to have been carved on wood but he makes no mention of the illustrators; the book is a 4th edition brought out in 1895 perhaps that is the reason.

This is Miss Jekyl'ls Munstead White 

Primula vulgaris or the wild primrose, the prettiest of them all, deep notching of the leaves 
Pale pink presumably
Auricula -' Mrs. Moore'


  1. I love the gold laced polyanthus - have mine out in the cold frame with my auriculas. I was nearly tempted by the cheap and cheerful polyanthus in Lidl today, but we are meant to be only buying what we need right now, so I walked past.

  2. Very pretty. I love wild primroses and hope to find some new plants this week as we have done some serious shrub pruning and there is room for more spring flowers at last.

  3. BB: and when you take them out of the cold frames its best to them in a northern aspect (so it says in the book), Always wanted to collect auriculas as well..

    DW: I love the wild primrose as well, but so delicate if you want a few for indoors...

  4. Those illustrations are lovely and not at all diminished by the lack of color. I wonder if primroses grow wild in this country--in a lifetime of enjoying wildflowers I've never encountered them outside a garden center.