Wolfhounds and primulas

There’s nothing like a dog for keeping the wildlife at bay, so, in a year when I have been overrun by rabbits and squirrels, I’ve been contemplating finding a replacement for our mad collie, who, alas, shuffled off his mortal coil a year or two back. Something large, and fast, and friendly, and suitably eccentric….

So when a daughter found a litter of wolfhound pups for sale nearby, they had to be seen:

Quite adorable, but the problem is that there is large, and then there is very large.
This is not going to fit in the Mini. This is not going to do the flowerbeds any good. This is not going to be compatible with furniture. Sometimes you have to be rational, however boring and regretable it is. So the search continues….

Meanwhile, on the primula front, p.alpicola has done well this year. It belongs to the Sikkimensis group, which, after the candelabras, provides the next most reliable range of plants which will grow in Scottish gardens.

Primula alpicola comes in a wide range of colours from white to dark violet. There are three official varieties, ‘alba’ (white) ‘luna’ (pale yellow) and ‘violacea’ (purple), but as you see above, you can get pretty pale pink shades too. It sets seed fairly readily and germinates well, but many of my plants that have seeded themselves turn out to have nasty palid lilac flowers, and it is rare that I find one worth keeping. p.alpicola is pretty reliable – although it hates moles beneath its roots – and can survive in only marginally damp soil, and does not seem to mind direct sun as much as some primulas. It is slow to emerge in spring, though, and an over-enthusiastic early weeding will endanger its resting buds.

Primula ioessa is like a smaller version of Alpicola. Richards gives its habitat as wet alpine meadows, but with me it does quite well in peat that is merely damp. The usual colour is a beautiful lilac blue, but the above (var. hopeana) is quite common too. It is said to be short-lived – which reminds me that I must save seed this year.

Finally,  there is p.poisonnii  (technically another candelabra primula from section proliferae). This is evergreen, which helps you to remember where it is in winter.

Like the others of its group, it isn’t fussy about who it gets into bed with, and I have long given up trying to distinguish it from its close relative p.wilsonii. All I’ll say about it is that you can have a colour range from this electric pink to a rather more sober red, and that it comes into flower rather later than its fellows. It’s a greedy plant, and will go back rapidly if it doesn’t get a nice dose of compost now and again.

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17 thoughts on “Wolfhounds and primulas

  1. oo lots more primulas I havent heard of – really getting into them but just when I think I have a handle on them, there turns out to be more.

    What about cats instead of a dog – mine is a real hunter and has caught rats before. Apparently my parents had cats that used to catch baby rabbits?

    • Helen, I haven’t even started on the dodgier ones yet! The genus is truly huge, and most of them are impossible….

      I’m afraid I’m a dog person. Cats are, well……I don’t know, but I don’t think I could live with one. Besides, the butler is allergic to them. So that puts the kybosh on the idea.

  2. Local cats have solved our rabbit problem, they catch the babies and take them home! Our old dog was a retriever/lurcher and was 9 months when we got her. She very soon learned that flower beds were not for playing in and was content to lie on the grass when I was working in the borders. Lots of gorgeous primulas, ours are really enjoying all the torrential rain that we are having at the moment!

  3. Get a terrier. Really you should know this, being in terrier country as you are. They damage no plants and kill squirrels etc, totally bred for that and driven to do it. I’m sorry to say it but we have NO squirrels in the garden anymore –Max caught and instantly killed several. He only digs if there is a mole hole, after which the moles relocate…

      • Westies do not yap. And they only bark for a reason, like at a treed squirrel, or at the sound of gunfire in the distance — or at horses running on tv, oddly.

        • Good heavens, you do get up early in summer! I’m very worried that I would tread on a terrier by mistake. Also I like dogs that you can have a tug-of-war with and not win every time. Equally, I don’t like losing too often – which is another good reason for not having a wolfhound.

  4. Cats and dogs are both great. I’m a spaniel fan myself having grown up with them.

    The electric pink of the poisonii is really good – any idea why poisonnii? Are they poisonous? 😛

    • Ah, I see I missed out an ‘s’. Should be ‘Poissonii’. Possibly after Jules Poisson, who appears on the Harvard database of French botanists as b. 1833 d.1919. Since Richards tells me Delavay introduced this primula to Paris in 1882-3, he may have named it after a colleague? Less romantic than the ‘poisonous primula’ – but probably closer to the truth!

  5. nothing like Jack russell to see off rabbits and great rat catchers. I have three dog but jack russell sniffs out all .

  6. We’ve been considering getting a dog over the last couple of months but we often go away at quite short notice and have no one close enough that would be able to look after it so we’re reluctant to commit. I agree about the wolfhound. How much would you spend on dog food? It would be like having another person in the house. I love wired haired daschunds, myself.

    • Hello WW. If you lead a vagrant lifestyle, you just have to put your dogs in kennels. It’s no worse than boarding school. In fact, rather better, and considerably less expensive. Stick them in at a young enough age and they’ll never notice. Probably they will come back telling you about the wonderful time they had – and then you get to feel inadequate…

  7. Wonderful photos as usual – what camera do you use or are you just a brilliant photographer as well as gardener? I was particularly taken with your primula ioessa. Recently came back from walking in the Portes du Soleil French Alps and found masses of oxlips at about 2300 metres which look very similar (as well as carpets of white and purple crocuses right on the snow line, and the delicate-looking, but obviously tough, alpine snowbell). Given my nasty, cold wet clay, is there a particular primula you would suggest might fancy Wiltshire?

    • Hello Minety, I make no claim whatsoever to any photographic talent. I keep a cheap Lumix in my pocket – which usually does the work for me, except when it seizes up, in which case I bash it on a table top a couple of times and it usually comes back to life. As for primulas for Wiltshire….just how wet is your clay? If very wet throughout summer, try p.florindae. I sent some to Libby in Essex, and so far they are doing OK for her. Also you should try p.bulleyana, which I find indestructible here. If those two succeed, than you can expand the range….

  8. Did you know that Mina is pregnant again? Yes, again. Apparently she really wants to live up to her generic name of bitch. Well im going to post pictures of the litter, feel free to pick up the one you like more. They surely won’t need to squeeze in you Mini, even if you’d like more than one…. 😉
    I didn’t even imagine the big amount of primulas that populate this World before reading your blog and I think they’re all beautiful!

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