Posts Tagged ‘primroses’

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!




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


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


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!


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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


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.

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!


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


P. vulgaris


P. vulgaris ‘Belarina Series Nectarine’


P. vulgaris double form


P. auricula cross from Susan Schnare.


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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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Entrance to the garden

Follow along as I meander through fellow Primula-nut Arlene’s large and well established garden on a hilltop in Vermont.

Friend Mary & I got together last weekend to tour the garden and take in a couple of nurseries along the way as long as the weather held up. Which lately wasn’t happening all that much. We’ve had the rainiest April & May on record so as you can imagine the lawns & gardens are soaking wet!

Using our faithful Tomtom GPS to get us there we arrived just after lunchtime pulling up to Arlene’s house with a gorgeous view of the mountain valley. Her house is at the end of a dirt road with no near neighbors so it was very quiet and still. Arlene was there in her garden to greet us and guide us through the wandering stone pathways, indicating which year a certain plant was grown and set out or where another plant was purchased and who the lovely apricot double primrose was named for.

Double Apricot Primrose 'Agnes'

Following the Paths Through the Garden

Woodland Wonders

After an intial walk-through I slowly made my way through again taking close-ups of the flowers that caught my attention…and there were so many! There are large patches of Trillium, Cypripedium, Solomon’s Seal, Double Bloodroot, Anemone nemerosa, and so many other treasures!

Trillium grandiflorum, Large White Trillium

The yellow Trillium luteum with Cypripedium parviflorum. (I think)

And of course there were Primulas galore!!

Primula sieboldii

Primula polyanthus deep maroon

Arlene’s primroses have been crossing and self-sowing here for many years that everywhere you look there are multitudes of variation. Every shade of the rainbow..almost, and every form of petal. The plants are grown in rich garden loam, amended with compost and all under the shade of very old apple trees. Arlene adds new beds each year as she grows so many from seed from the APS seed exchange. In fact she is always the first to send her seed in to the exchange and the first to order! It’s fun to see what she has grown from all the donations from around the world.

A lovely Primula elatior of a bright red color.

A glowing pink polyanthus, a chance seedling popping up.

Growing from seed is one of my most favorite things to do, and the variation you get always surprises.

After a little plant swapping time where I came away with the apricot double, a bright maroon sieboldii and the deep red polyanthus Mary & I made our way over to Marshfield and the nursery of friend George Africa to say hi and see what he and Gail have been up to. Their nursery Vermont Flower Farm is on Rte. 2 overlooking old farm pastures which George is busy turning into display gardens and growing fields for their Daylilies. The selection of Hosta was amazing as were the Epimedium which Mary loved and picked one to bring home.

The weather held up as we wended our way back to Hubbardton over the Appalachian Gap and down past Rocky Dale Gardens. Now I need to find a spot in my gardens for the newest treasures!

Every photo is clickable for enlarging and more description!

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