Primula ‘Inverewe’

I’ll start with p. x ‘Inverewe’, because in many ways it forms the backbone of the bog plantings in the garden. Here it is in all its June glory:

According to John Richards’ magisterial book, ‘Primula’, ‘Inverewe’ may be a three-way cross between P. x bullesiana and P. cockburniana. It is named after the famous garden in the north-west where it was first found.

With me, ‘Inverewe’ grows like a weed. Most primulas, including many candleabras, dislike heavy clay, but ‘Inverewe’ appears to thrive on it. It is sterile, so clumps have to be divided, and I often get ten or more offsets from a single plant. Like most candleabras, it has long tap roots which burrow into the sticky wet clay, and it is heavy work digging and splitting. Division in spring or autumn seems to work equally well, provided it is not done during a rare hot spell. Effectively, the secret with ‘Inverewe’ is to give it as much moisture at the roots as possible. Here it grows happily in full sun, but needs shade in drier climates. It has few vices, and the thick cabbage-like leaves provide a reasonably effective barrier against weeds (apart from water buttercup – which loves the same conditions).

The hot orange/scarlet is a remarkably useful colour to work with, as you can use it as a highlighter to draw the eye, and there is little it clashes with, except some pinks or lilacs. For which reason I don’t plant mixed candelabra beds – the result can be unfortunate. But against white, yellow or blue – especially the big water irises, orange or yellow ligularia, or the yellow euphorbias, especially e.palustris ‘Wallenburg’s glorie’ it works well.

Here are some of my Inverewe beds, spaced out down the small field drain in the part of the garden I call ‘New territories’ (because the land was added on in 2000).

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6 thoughts on “Primula ‘Inverewe’

  1. Primula “inverewe ” has always had a special meaning for me as we visited the garden at Inverewe on several occasions. We used to grow the primula in our last garden but it’s not suited to the sandy soil of Montrose. Maybe The answer is to put it in a pot.

  2. Have just come across your blog and what a coincidence, we have just come back from a super holiday in the north of Scotland and visited Inverewe ! Tried to buy Primula Inverewe there and at other gardens and nurseries but no luck. Found it at a nursery on Dartmoor when we got back to
    Devon, so I bought 3 ! Pleased to see from your comments that in a very short time we will have 30 lovely plants !!

    • I hope they do well for you. That far south, you may find them more difficult, I don’t know. But if you can give them lots of water, keep them out of direct sun if you can, and perhaps use a peat-based compost, they should have a chance. Make sure they are really happy and have put on plenty of growth before trying to split them…..

  3. Don’t worry, I have an underground stream in the shade, I think they will be very happy. No peat though, I will use our own leaf mould which our meconopsis love, so I think they should settle into their new home easily !!

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