Tuesday, April 08, 2008



A few words about six marvelous miniature hybrid primulas which remain rather little known in America although they have long been grown and admired by European growers. The first and probably best known of the group is P.x berninae "Windrush". P.x berninae is a fertile hybrid of P. latifolia x p.hirsuta which occurs over a rather wide area of the west central Alps on the borders of France and Italy. The cultivar "Windrush" was grown from seed in the early 1920`s by Paul Rosenheim. It is a very compact form with l arge pink-purple flowers and is a very floriferous, easily grown primula. A perfect candidate for pot and trough culture where it appreciates part sun and good drainage. Primula "Pink Ice" is a vigorous hybrid of P.allionii x p.pubscens "Harlow Carr". This is the perfect choice for the grower who wants the perfection of form and beauty of P.allionii without all the difficulties. This plant is compact, strong growing and buried under a bloom of large, crystalline pink flowers for several weeks in spring. Not to be confused with the P.allionii cultivar "Pink Ice". Primula "Beatrice Wooster" is an intentional, artificial hybrid of the same cross as one which has been found several times in nature. In this case the cross was P.allionii x p.marginata "Linda Pope". The resultant plant is one of neat, dwarf habit and produces a heavy bloom of pink flowers with a white eye. Another easy choice for pot culture. I think that the easiest to please and most satisfactory P.allionii hybrid that I grow is P.allionii x p.villosa. This is a wonderful little compact mound of slightly viscid, bronze foliage with a mass of stemless rich violet-purple blooms with a prominent white eye. This hybrid often produces a worthwhile fall bloom as well as its spring extravaganza. One of my favorite dwarf primula hybrids is P.x loiseleuri "Lismore Yellow" reportedly a cross between a white form of P.allionii x P.auricula raised from seed by Mrs. J.A.Burrow. The plant has foliage which is larger and less sticky than P.allionii and remains an attractive dark-green year round with a strong bloom of soft yellow flowers in spring. Easily grown and soon forms a large plant. The brightest colored bloom of the six primula discussed in this article belongs to P."Ethel Barker". This is a very free flowering hybrid of P.allionii x p.hirsuta with rather long, down covered foliage held on long petioles. The foliage mound is very compact and light green. Stunning blooms of deep, carmine-red with a white eye will stop you in your tracks when you see a well grown plant. The plant was grown from seed by Mr. Frank Barker in the 1930`s and is still one of the best hybrids around. Give some of these beauties a try and brighten your late winter and early spring show in the alpine house or cold frame.

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