In most years, the first week of May marks the time when the ephemerals and wild flowers in New England reach their peak bloom. This year, with record breaking heat, and our unseasonably early spring, it was a miracle that any primroses at all are in bloom. As we do every year, we host the New England Chapter of the American Primrose Society cocktail party and dinner on Friday night ( which is why I have not been posting all week). It's always a great time to see old friends, and this year we had a special guest speaker, Jim Almond from England joining us. Jim is a notable grower of alpines and primula in the United Kingdom, and his web site is very popular amongst enthusiasts.
|This top winner, is a double form that you may even find at some garden centers - Primula ' Ballerina'.|
Primula are dug from the garden by exhibitors, placed in pots, groomed carefully by removing dead leaves and flowers that have passed, and then top-dressed with clean soil/ Judges then evaluate each plant carefully, in each class selecting a winner for each category. A best in show winner is then selected from the blue ribbon winners from each class.
|Primula sieboldii, Japan's most beloved primrose, made an impressive showing at this years New England Primula Society show. A great garden plant for woodland locations, this plant will spread and reseed nicely if you don't use bark mulch.|
In England, primrose shows are seriously competitive events, with very strict rules regarding plants, their characteristics and form, but here in the US, many rules are relaxed. British growers also focus on the more challenging species and hybrids, like P. allionii and P. auricula ( we would too, if we could grow them well) , but in most areas of North America, the garden primula simply means the Polyanthus types, and sometimes the later blooming Asiatic species such as the fine, and rarely seen P. sieboldii from Japan. There were many entries in the P. auricula classes, but this year most bloomed a month ago, and are far past their prime.
|My entry ( thrown together Saturday morning after Friday nights party!) won a blue ribbon for a planted container collection.|
|Another entry of mine, a rarely seen species in our eastern shows - Primula forestii, a greenhouse primrose with tiny pink blossoms. These plants were originally shared with me by Rodney Barker, a fellow member.|
|A nice selection of Primula sieboldii with fringed blossoms.|
|Some members still had a few early primroses in the show, such as these Drumstick Primroses, Primula denticulata.|