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Posts Tagged ‘American Primrose Society’

A quick reminder to all compulsive collectors of seeds……keep on doing it and now is the time!! (Am I really just talking to myself here?)

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The Primula sieboldii are doing a great job producing fat seed pods this year.

 

So right now I have been checking on the Primula seed production and it’s looking pretty good. The polyanthus aren’t pulling their weight but I haven’t checked on all the plants yet.

 

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This P. polyanthus is showing a lovely and fat seed pod! But it’s the only one on the whole plant.

The P. kisoana ‘Alba’ is actually setting seed this year. With the cool and moist spring we’ve had this plant has grown quite a bit more than in past years.

 

 

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P. kisoana ‘Alba’ with some nice seed pods too.

 

And of course the P. japonica have set copious amounts of seed as they always do. I planted some new P. bulleesiana this year and I’m not expecting much seed from them, but you never know.

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The P. japonica doing what they do along the stream.

 

For those who didn’t know, I’m the seed exchange manager for the American Primrose Society, and I highly recommend joining so you can take part in the seed exchange every winter. Most of the seed you have seen in these photos and from other plants not yet setting seed will be donated to APS and other exchanges.

Please take some time to harvest your seed from any of your plants, they will be cheerfully accepted and grown by many other enthusiastic gardeners around the world.

Find out more about the APS seed exchange here.

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Just a few photos today so you can see what’s going on inside while it’s rainy, windy and nasty outside.

The only Amaryllis I can get to reflower every year. I have two others that never boom but I am not giving up on them!

The only Amaryllis I can get to reflower every year. I have two others that never bloom but I am not giving up on them!

A little Primula malacoides that was grown from seed by me friend Matt Mattus. He has way better photos of these on his blog at Growing With Plants.

A little Primula malacoides that was grown from seed by my friend Matt Mattus. He has way better photos of these on his blog at Growing With Plants.

An eyelash Begonia that I've had for many years and blooms twice a year for me. It's called an 'eyelash' Begonia for its little hairs all along the outer edges of the leaves that look just like little eyelashes!
An eyelash Begonia that I’ve had for many years and blooms twice a year for me. It’s called an ‘eyelash’ Begonia for its little hairs all along the outer edges of the leaves that look just like little eyelashes!

A fuzzy photo of a ruffled Cyclamen persicum that I picked up recently the last time I visited my parents in Mass. It's still doing well and opening new flowers. Usually I kill these within a few weeks. In front of the Cyclamen in a mini Oncidium Orchid that my good friend Susan gave me just two weeks ago. It's name is 'Twinkle Little Star' and it has the most lovely fragrance!

A fuzzy photo of a ruffled Cyclamen persicum that I picked up recently the last time I visited my parents in Mass. It’s still doing well and opening new flowers. Usually I kill these within a few weeks. In front of the Cyclamen is a mini Oncidium Orchid that my good friend Susan gave me just two weeks ago. It’s name is ‘Twinkle Little Star’ and it has the most lovely fragrance!

An update on the seedlings I mentioned a few weeks ago are now growing well! Here is a selection of Primula polyanthus mostly.
An update on the seedlings I mentioned a few weeks ago are now growing well! Here is a selection of Primula polyanthus mostly.

Arisaema flavum that are looking very good.

Arisaema flavum that are looking very good.

A potful of Primula acaulis. A few of the seedlings shriveled up and died for no apparent reason. The rest look fine so I don't think it was damping-off.

A potful of Primula acaulis. A few of the seedlings shriveled up and died for no apparent reason. The rest look fine so I don’t think it was damping-off.

A newly sprouted Cyclamen graecum seedling. I got the seeds for these from a member of one of the plant groups I belong to either the Hellebore group or Trillium group. He offered an assortment of seed to the members who had something interesting in trade. Most of his seed was wild collected so it should be interesting to see what comes of these.

A newly sprouted Cyclamen graecum seedling. I got the seeds for these from a member of one of the plant groups I belong to either the Hellebore group or Trillium group. He offered an assortment of seed to the members who had something interesting in trade. Most of his seed was wild collected so it should be interesting to see what comes of these. He comes from Italy and does a bit of wandering over the mountains botanizing and collecting seed. I also have a pot of Arum seedlings just sprouting that I got from him.

Cyclamen hederifolium seedlings just emerging. I got the seed for these from the APS seed exchange this year. The main round is almost over, but the second round will start March 1st and anyone can order seed....no membership in APS required!

Cyclamen hederifolium seedlings just emerging. I got the seed for these from the APS seed exchange this year. The main round is almost over, but the second round will start March 1st and anyone can order seed….no membership in APS required! check the seed list here.

One last photo that I took when I returned from the gym this morning. The sight of the snow hanging off the eaves always gives me the heebie jeebies! I’m just afraid one day I’ll be opening the kitchen door and get pounded flat by it! So far……so good

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On rotten February days like these we need to keep reminding ourselves that spring will come when it comes and not a moment sooner and by taking in the beauty all around us in nature and what we can make ourselves helps so much to keep us/me sane and looking forward to next thing to come along!

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Seed that donated or bought in for the exchange.

Seed that was donated or bought in for the exchange.

The time has come to get busy sorting and packeting seed for the American Primrose Society seed exchange which I have been the manager of for the past three years. The seed has been ordered from a number of good companies and donations have all arrived from very generous members who have taken the time to collect, clean, label and send their precious seed to me so it can be distributed to members of the society all over the world!

During the short and cold days of winter I have lots of free time between the growing seasons to spend a few hours a week on this important and valuable task which is a great resource for folks to obtain seed of so many species of Primula that you can’t find anywhere else!

 

 

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P. sieboldii comes in so many different forms and colors.

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P. polyanthus Gold Laced are very coveted plants that wins many ribbons at the shows when grown to exacting standards.

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P. polyanthus Garnet Cowichan grown from seed from Barnhaven Primroses of France with the best seed available and the APS seed exchange offers many of them!

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The rare and prized P. kisoana ‘Alba’ grows and spreads by stolons just under the soil surface and loves a nice moist and shady spot. Here it growing along the edge of the stream that runs through my property.

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P. kisoana the sister of the previous white form. This one spreads much faster and creates a lovely groundcover fairly quickly.

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There is seed of the Barnhaven Double Primroses on this years APS seed list which you will find here. Not every seed will become a double form but if any turn out as nice as this one it’s all worth it! Friend and fellow Primula nut, Arlene Perkins gave a piece of this plant to me a few years ago which she named ‘Agnes’ for a good friend of hers.

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And of course there will be seed for many different P. auricula! I grew this one a few years ago from APS seed and it has always performed well for me.

Primula are really so easy from seed that more people should be growing them. There are many species that are very hardy and will survive winters up to at least US zone 4 without any protection! I will be testing that statement this winter as I never got around to covering my flats of seedlings and potted plants this fall. Right now they’re covered with a good layer of fresh snow, so I’m hoping that will stay around long enough to keep them well insulated against any deep freezes we are sure to get and have already gotten this fall!

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Trays and trays of plants and seed pots waiting for a good layer of snow because I was too lazy to give them a warm fleece blanket and layers of tarps.

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One of the coldframes full of P. auricula, cyclamen and other treasures.

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One of my propagation beds full of P. auricula, Hellebores, P. sieboldii and others. These will winter just fine without protection and have grown so well here in partial shade.

Almost all Primula seed can be sown either in late fall or through the winter on top of moistened potting mix, covered with a thin layer of chicken grit and then placed outside to experience all the weather winter will throw at them with germination in the spring as the temps warm up. Easy as that! Only a few should be sown indoors and kept under lights or in a sunny window or if you’re lucky enough…a greenhouse.
I sow so many seeds through the winter that I order through APS or NARGS that I am kept very busy during this ‘down time’ until the nursery opens in April.

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Spring is such a wonderful time for the gardener and seed sower…so much anticipation and expectation! Every morning is spent patrolling the gardens and nursery for signs of growth and when those first green shoots appear from something more unusual and exotic that was sown during the depths of winter, the feeling is fantastic!

Here are a few parting photos of Primula just to get you to take a look at the APS seed list and start dreaming about all the possibilities!

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P.japonica seeds around and comes in so many different colors.

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P. vulgaris

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P. vulgaris ‘Belarina Series Nectarine’

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P. vulgaris double form

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P. auricula cross from Susan Schnare.

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It’s fall, and that means many Cyclamen start blooming or sending up their beautifully patterned leaves! I have become somewhat obsessed with growing Cyclamen either from seed or purchasing them from a few good growers. In the past few weeks they are all showing some sort of new leafy growth or popping up their delicate looking flowers. I have read many times that most ‘hardy’ Cyclamen won’t grow here, but I can tell you they grow just fine here in zone 4-5 Vermont!

The following have all been grown outside in my gardens for at least one year. Some are from seed I obtained through the seed-ex of the North American Rock Garden Society, the American Primrose Society or from John Lonsdale and Plant Delights Nursery.

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Give them a well drained soil with a little bit of sun and they are happy! Plant the corms about 1″ deep and cover with a gritty soil mix so the corm stays dry over winter. They are glorious almost all year sending up fabulous new leaves late summer & fall. C. hederifolium bloom now, while the C. coum blooms in early spring. The all silvered leaf plant above is C. purpurescens which blooms in mid-summer.

Most will self sow when happy and you can see in the second to last photo that C. coum is very happy! I have seedlings coming up all over that bed!

There are also a few non-hardy types for the sunny windowsill. While the common C. persicum can be found almost everywhere now you should give a few of the rarer ones a try. Most need to be started from seed which can be found on many of the specialist plant society seed exchanges or purchased from a few specialty growers such as Arrowhead Alpines you can see they even use a cyclamen leaf in the title of the nursery!

Here are a few of the plants I have started from seed or bought in already potted. The first is C. graecum a lovely thing I got from John Lonsdale with fantastic leaves. The second is the same but one I grew from seed. The third is C. rohfsianum that I picked up at a chapter meeting of NARGS a couple of years ago grown by a friend who says his has over 75 flowers on it this year! Mine hasn’t flowered for the past two years!! Don’t know what I’m doing wrong here but the leaves are lovely to look at anyway. The last is a C. pseudibericum also from John. It has the one flower on it this year and will be sending up beautifully marked leaves very soon. I have them all in a sunny east facing window. During the summer they are pretty much in a dormant state outside with no watering except what nature gives them. I repot them every 2 years or so and topdress them with a pretty gravel mix.

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Please gives these beauties a try. They are so rewarding!

Thanks for stopping by…..please leave me a comment and let me know about your adventures with the fabulous Cyclamen!

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It’s now coming close to show season in the plant world. While there are loads of garden shows now open all over the country,  what I am most interested in are the specific plant society shows where you’ll find alpines of all sorts, Primula, Narcissus, etc. grown to perfection by meticulous and sometimes not so meticulous growers.  The next show that I will be attending this year is the American Primrose Society National Show being held in Potland, OR.  I’m so excited to be attending this show as the Pacific Northwest is the Primrose growers ideal climate and the concentration of nurseries that grow Primula and all sorts of woodland treasures is fantastic!! I have compiled a large list of nurseries & gardens  to visit….here’s a small sampling of them…Wild Ginger Farm, Fraser’s Thimble Farms & The Bloedel Reserve . And that’s just a small selection! I’m going to bring a fairly empty suitcase so I’ll have lots of room to bring plants home….I may even mail some plants home! The show is going to be at the same time as the Oregon Hardy Plant Society and in the same venue so I’ll have access to many fine growers at the show. More info on that here.

I so enjoy entering plants in these shows just to see how my plants stack up against others more experienced at this sort of thing than I am.  And every year I learn some new tidbit of information to help me along on that road to perfection. In the very first Primrose show I ever went to I entered a Primula polyanthus ‘Garnet Cowichan’ and won a first place ribbon! How excited and proud I was to have achieved that!! But then came the heartbreak of losing the plant that same season. The plants that I dig up and pot for these shows always suffer quite a bit from their rude treatment. But I’ve found with more careful attention to their needs I can keep them going after replanting into the garden.

I grew this plant from seed-exchange seed a few years back.

I really love the form of these hose-in-hose...flower in a flower plants.

Isn’t it a beauty? After I replanted this into the garden it reduced in size over the season, but it has grown back to a decent size with some coddling.

I’m now very busy with the APS seed exchange as I’m the seedex manager and the orders have been arriving all winter. It’s a fun way to get through the long winter and it’s also interesting to see what sorts of seeds members order. Some folks are all about the species and don’t order any crosses or named varieties, some folks that’s all they want and then there are mostly the growers who sample a bit of everything. That’s pretty much where I am. I’ve been sowing pots & pots of seed over the winter and having a blast watching the little sprouts emerging through the soil under the grow lights. Here’s a photo of what my kitchen table looks like when I’m filling seed orders.

APS Seed-exchange Bits & Pieces

Setting up to fill orders takes a little time, but it's interesting & fun to do.

Seedlings are sprouting now from seed sown earlier in the year. Some come up in droves while others come up very sparsely. Why is that I wonder? Condition of the seed when collected, storing of the seed after collection, temperature of the seed pot after sowing…lots of variables to consider.

P. florindae seedlings. Seed from the APS seedex this year.

This seed was sown in Feb. and has been germinating for the past few days.

Also under the growlights are a few pots of P. auricula that I overwintered on the porch and have brought indoors to see if I can get them to flower in time for either the show in Oregon or our chapter show in May. I did get one to bloom last year but the timing was off. That is such a tricky thing, forcing plants into bloom out of their natural bloom cycle. It’s all about temperature. So we’ll see how things go in the next few weeks.

An auricula seedling that hasn't bloomed yet for me.

Trying to force these auricula into bloom for the show.

There’s usually something to keep me busy during the winter that’s plant related….now if I only had a greenhouse then I’d really keep my hands in the soil all year!!

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I’m very late in posting an update on the show….after in my last post I promised to keep you updated on the show happenings! But I’m feeling it’s better late than never…so here goes.

The weekend was very busy as you can imagine, I stopped on the way down to Hillside Nursery in Shelburne Falls, Mass. A wholesale grower of unusual woodland plants, some native to the US and lots from Asia and Europe. I had placed an order with Peter Joppe, the owner, a few months back in anticipation of the Primrose Show and most of his plants sold the first day! The plants of his that didn’t all sell such as Anemonopsis macrophylla and Cornus canadensis I’ll have for sale at the NARGS annual meeting later this month (see my calender of Events page). I would love to post pictures here but I didn’t remember to take any of my tables of plants until later and then realised my camera batteries were shot! But here’s a link to his website.

Friday included the garden tours to 3 private gardens in Petersham, Mass. The first was to Peter George’s garden which included lovely rock gardens that were bursting with all manner of choice alpines, peonies, Primula, Iris, Epimedium and so many other treasures! I mistakenly deleted the photos I took here so you’ll just have to imagine it! Sorry!

The next garden was to Abby Rorers’ wonderful shade gardens and small greenhouse which was full of her collections of Gasteria, Haworthia and mini Aloes! I used to collect many of these succulents too, but now that I live on a shady & wooded piece of heaven I had to give those plants away. Abby’s gardens were so sweet and full of perfect examples of shade loving Primula polyanthus, Epimedium, Arisaema, Anemone nemerosa and many others. Sorry but no pictures for here either.

Our next garden visit was to Bruce Lockhart’s woodland garden and new, still under-construction gardens. Here were large old clumps of Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ with their large yellow bells, and a huge patch of Podophyllum peltatum, the native Mayapple. There were massive stands of Epimedium and Primula vulgaris. You will be happy to know I did get a few photos of Bruce’s gardens…whew!!

Mayapple

Pophyllum peltatum

After the garden tour it was hurry up to Tower Hill to set up my tables of plants for sale! And to get my pots of entries onto the show benches. It takes time to make each plant look its best, you’ve got to look very closely at each leaf, flower, bud and the pot itself for any blemishes. You must decide which side of the plant will face out towards the judges discerning eyes, so you’ve got to arrange the flower stems & leaves just so. Clean the pot of any soil bits and debris that might be clinging to it set it in a saucer and place it on the bench in the correct category. Even after days of nurturing each plant and lovingly placing it among all the other contenders you just never know what will catch the judges eye and deem your plant either a winner or ….I can’t really say ‘loser’ but one that isn’t up to standard.

Here’s a photo of my ‘Best in Section’ P. polyanthus Cowichan Garnet, grown from seed I got in the APS seed exchange last year.

Best in Division Cowichan Garnet

Friday night brings us to the anticipated dinner at Matt & Joe’s house, gardens & greenhouse! We all look forward to this event every year and it is always delicious! Matt is a fantastic cook so we always know we’ll be well fed. This year was especially fun as there was a ‘theme’! Silly British Hats in honor of the royal wedding! There was pub food on the menu and hats did appear!

Mary & me modeling our hats. (I'm on the left)

We had such a fun time and greeted many new attendees for this years show. The greenhouse was full as always with so many unusual bulbs, tropicals, Clivia, Orchids and other oddities. Matt Mattus has a wonderful blog I follow on all things horticultural….check it out here.

The rest of the weekend was full of activities such as an awards dinner, a lecture by renowned British plant explorer Chris Chadwell on seed collecting in the Himalayas, selling loads of my plants and just plain fun with friends who are also crazy about Primula!

I can’t recommend this group more! Our next meeting will be in CT at the famous gardens of fellow members Nick Nicou & Carol Hanby. Their Rhododendron collection is famous and the gardens are extensive and full of Primula! If you would like more information about the meeting plans or just want to chat about primroses leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Don’t forget every photo is clickable for enlarging and added commentary.

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A few plants for the show bench

The National Show of The American Primrose Society is drawing near! And I am a vendor this year, so that means I have been very busy getting plants ready. This is a huge job which includes digging, dividing, potting, labeling, sorting the good from the not so good and worrying.

For the last few weeks I’ve been prowling around the gardens trying to decide which plants might be in bloom at the right time for the show benches and which would be good candidates for dividing & potting for the sale benches. I have dug many plants in hopes that they will be perfect for the show, but some are not panning out as planned and I’ll probably not take them. But then most are looking very good and I keep adding to the collection for the show benches.

My small 'nursery' of overwintered flats and plants for the APS show

My gardens are my nursery which means I don’t have a whole lot of room for all the plants I would like to grow, so the variety of plants won’t always be where I would like. I grow almost everything from seed or division and I’m learning new techniques all the time. I’ve been reading Bill Cullinas book ‘Wildflowers’ A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Wildflowers of North America. It has been such a great guide. I love Bill’s way of explaining all manner of growing methods in such an enjoyable way. I just learned that if you poke around the crown of Dodecatheon you can tease off a few easily separated crowns and pot or replant them. So I went out and put this knowledge to practice and he’s right! The plant does separate very easily and I left most undisturbed, while separating off 3 crowns for potting. Next I want to try my hand at root cuttings of Primula denticulata.

Primula denticulata in the garden

The above plant will grow into a large ball of purple flowers. These love a constantly moist soil in part shade and will self sow when happy. Each year the clump gets larger and can be dug & divided in early spring. They come in pink, white and all shades of purple to almost red. I’ve got lots of them all along my streamside,and they are one of the earliest flowers in the garden.

Preparations for the Primrose show will be ongoing this week up till the last minute when I leave friday morning, so I’ll try to keep posting as the week goes on and especially at the show! If you want to read more about the Primrose show or see photos of past shows click here.

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