May 2, 2010

American Primrose Society National Show Weekend

A Double mustard colored Auricula Primrose

This weekend, we attended the National Primrose Society National Show, which was hosted by our local Primrose Chapter, the New England Primula Society. With 3 days of dinners, hosting garden tours and a dinner/cockail party, we are wiped. I think I need a week off! Still, if was a wonderful show held at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden once again, and the weather could not have been nicer, even though it was a bit too warm! If you've ever wanted to see some spectacular primroses up close, this would have been the show to attend. For a year where the heat, and rain seemed to make it feel more like June than May, we were all pleasantly surprised to see a record number of entries this year, particularly in the classes that were dedicated to Auricula, perhaps the most beautiful of all flowers. Here are a few...
Some of my favorite primroses are the fancy edge show Auricula, so rarely seen in the United States, and rarely seen in many regional primrose society shows since the are challenging to grow in most North American climate areas, and often require some special attention such as an alpine house, a cold greenhouse, a cold frame or a sunken pit house. The white part of the flower, called 'farina' or paste, is a white, sticky substance which can be ruined by rain, or by careless watering. Auricula are one of the few flowers that can appear in green, or grey, or true black. In the nineteenth century, they were often displayed in elaborate Auricula theaters, displayed on shelves, often with velvet curtains, or painted backgrounds, so that one could view properly, but the plants could be presented with some protection from the elements.
The Grand Prize winning primrose was an Alpine Auricula grown by Maryanne Kuchel from Vermont. It seemed to sweep all of the major prizes, including best plant grown from seed.

A fancy Striped White and Grey Edged Auricula Primrose.

A Yellow Centered Alpine Auricula.
A view of the Double Auricula show bench this morning. I love the colors of the double Auricula's, especially the mustard tints, the browns, and the golden green ones.
A White Edge, Fancy Show Auricula, about at 'Fancy' as a plant can get. These must be kept under glass, away from wind, and protected from heat, rain and the hose. Check out the intense black and white coloring, as well as the nice white paste forming in the center.

A yellow Border Auricula
Look at the colors in this White Edge, Striped  Show Auricula.

a white centered Border Auricula
My entry, won an honorable mention, but I didn't even expect that, since I dug it that morning, after hosting a party the night before, and I didn't groom the dead foliage off.  I did choose one of my new terra rosa pots that I took out of the kiln this week. This Border Auricula was growing in the middle of a clump of Narcissus, which I had to destroy in order to extract it. Most growers dig plants the morning of the show, except with the fanciest of show auriculas which are kept under glass or the protection of an alpine house.
 A pink, yellow centered Border Auricula

A lovely white-centered Alpine Auricula. Compared to the green, or fancy striped auricula with paste and farina, I find that the types known as 'Alpine Auricula' are easier to grow in the garden, only if given fast drainage, with moisture, like a raised rock wall, or a deep trough. Ours survive and bloom in the raised rock wall, near the foundation of the greenhouse. These are not plants for the open garden.
A closer look at the show winner, an Alpine Auricula that was grown from seed, and not yet named. Perfection!

Friday Evening we hosted all visiting Primula show members for a cocktail party and dinner in honor of John Richards, author of PRIMULA's, ( Timber Press), and noted Primula expert (left, in blue vest) chats it up with some New England Primula experts ( Kris Fenderson in cowboy hat, Judith Sellers next to him in blue). Here, a group chats and sips May wine on a warm, New England evening enjoying both the garden, and Mr. Richards tales of explorations in remote areas of China in search of some of the rarest primula.


  1. I've been waiting to see your post after the Primula show.

    Congrats on your honorable mention!

    Those are beautiful plants-but I can't even think of trying these, I'll just enjoy your posts.


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