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….
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.
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.