April 19, 2006

High Alpine Primula marginata

Primula marginata are primroses that you will not find at a garden center. They must by ordered from an alpine plant catalog, or grown from seed, but that is even more difficult. Actually, the plants themselves are just plain difficult to grow,at least for me, but are a nice challenge for someone who can give them the right conditions in which to grow them.

In my New England garden, I am trying some outside now, in the new crevice garden, where I can plant them between the tight rocks and give them a little overhead protection from the rain, but ideally, they need to be grown under glass, in a cold alpine house. Primula marginata have interesting dentate leave edges, with a distinctive white 'farina' covering the surface of the entire plant, even the blossoms have some. This protective coating is natures way of keeping moisture in, during high elevation squalls and winds, as well as protecting the plant from the radiation of the sun, the surface does give it a nice silvery appearance, but can be damages with careless watering or even rain. In the alps, they grow in the highest of elevations, over 10,000 feet where cloud mists and snowmelt seeps give them the fresh moisture which they need, and as well as cold fresh air, and no rain at all on the foliage. Just dry snow. These high alpine primula are precious and still rewarding to grow, even if you kill the plant, as I do, every other summer or so!

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