Poculiform in fruit….

That word is new to me, and maybe to some of you too. It means ‘shaped like a goblet’ and I found it when I was looking up the details of primula sonchifolia. It’s a good word and ought to be taken out of its botanical niche and applied to the wider world, maybe to relatives. Here is p.sonchifolia, with its flowers still tightly bound together, almost beneath the soil surface. The goblet-shaped fruits won’t appear until later. Much later.I cherish this plant for daring to break out of its dormant egg-shaped bud in January, when few plants think of flowering. Like most asiatic primulas, it’s annoyingly temperamental, hating heat, disliking damp in winter and demanding it in summer, and prone to rot and die for no obvious reason. I stuck this particular plant  as a seedling into a deep peat bed where I could keep an eye on it – it’s now in entirely the wrong place, but it seems happy, and I dare not move it. It ought to be divided, but, again, I’m not sure I have the courage.

This is the problem with becoming over-enthusiatic about a species or a genus for which your garden conditions are not ideal, but at the edge of tolerable. Most of the plants in my garden are tough brutes that I treat with entire disrespect, but when it comes to the rarer primulas, I’ll happily waste money, time, and mental effort on something that I know in my heart of hearts will never flourish. I suppose its hybris; or a refusal to apply common sense. I should know better by now.

Little is happening in the garden. January is tolerable, but February is the pits. Winter is just so boring. Still, these peonies seem to think it is almost SpringThe appearance of the peony buds reminds me that it will soon be time to race the slugs to the new delphinium growth. There would appear to be a subtle type of miniature slug that specialises in munching delphinium buds while they are still beneath the soil surface in February, and if I don’t get there first with my blue pellets, the delphiniums never really recover.

There is a bit of movement in the greenhouse. The seed of primula pulvurentula which I sowed in October has germinated better than I hoped.

Why are there sunflower seed husks in the picture? The short answer is that mice have burgled the sack I bought to feed the birds with, and, being mice, have not bothered to take their litter home. I’m quite tolerant of this. I’ve lived with adolescents. Mice have nothing on them.



10 thoughts on “Poculiform in fruit….

  1. I can sympathise with you, I feel about my Meconopsis as you do about your Primulas, they shouldn’t like growing in sunny Devon, but I do everything I can to make sure that they are nice and cool with lots of moisture, yes, I go the extra mile, but then, they are so worth it!

  2. Phew K, poculiform, out of my depth yet again. The word is so rare, on your day of publishing, your right up there with it on the front page of a google search. Well, I needed a bit of confirmation on something so unusual. You are brave to find time for primula sonchifolia, good luck. alistair

    • Hello Alistair,
      I’d never heard poculiform before either. However, I’m all for promoting words that seem a bit neglected. Maybe you can use it when you next go shopping? ‘I’m looking for a poculiform vase for my wife’s birthday…’

  3. Thinking about it I have a couple of poculiform aunts… Well, nevermind.
    I only select tough plants for my garden, they already are a bother sometimes, I don’t want to waste time, money and (nevertheless!) my heart with disappointing and fussy plants. I must admit I have some big crosses pending over my head though. Three of them are choysia, astrantia and cimicifuga (actea). I tried and tried and I always lost with them. Maybe is my heavy clay and summer drought, but I think it’s a curse on me.

    • Hello Alberto,
      In my opinion, choysia (ternata?) is no great loss to you. A spiteful, horrid plant, with a grossly overpraised scent, which gets frosted, straggles, and looks horrible when not in flower. I could say much the same of cimicifuga, – no great loss. I’m surprised you can’t grow it, though, as it’s fairly tough. Personally, I grew fed up with its insipid ways and threw it out.

  4. I think your primula sonchifolia looks a bit of a triffid. You never know what might appear. You must be doing something right Mr K if they continue to grow (if not thrive) in your garden. I grew a lot of primulas in Orkney that I collected from Cluny, Inverewe and other places. Conditions here are not really suitable,. Shame!

    • Hello Janet,
      p.sonchifolia is not, I agree, an elegant plant. It sticks out vaguely cabbage-like leaves in summer and then produces these strange egg-shaped buds beneath them in which it over-winters itself, preferably beneath some snow ( no luck this year). Of course it grows like a weed at Cluny – why that garden grows primulas so well is beyond me….(and so frustrating)

  5. Oh dear. We have just had an 11 year old boy move in with us (long story) and your doom-laden words of Mice and Adolescents sends a shiver down my spine. I’ve already started flinching and twitching at the state of my once lovely, tidy home. Stay warm, Mr K – hunker down for February, and March will be here before you next look up.


  6. Lovely to see hints of spring about. Like you, I also try and trick Mother Nature by insisting that my Zone 7 garden is in the tropics. Nice attitude toward the mice. It keeps everything in perspective.

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