So, this weekend it is Gardening Scotland, which is not at all like Chelsea, because it has pipe bands and show gardens made by primary schools, and people selling seafood from Loch Fyne and other people demonstrating steam mops, and best of all a stall all the way from the deep south (ie Nottingham), which is the only place in the world that sells the thornproof red gauntlets without which I could not live. It also has some weird and wonderful plants, such as this calceolaria uniflora.
Not just the colour, nor the ridiculous disproportion of the flowers, but the heady sweet scent as an additional virtue make this a plant I willingly shell out on whenever I find it, however much I know it is hopeless in the long term. It belongs to section Soldanelloides, and is the only one of that section regularly in cultivation. And no wonder: Professor Richards, guru of primulas, has this to say:
“They are in the main the most maddeningly difficult of all primulas…species which emerge from under the snow in an almost dry dormant state to encounter immediately a torrential and continuous monsoon while growing in a water culture supported by a largely soilless medium of stones and grit, might well prove to be difficult in cultivation.”
I can do the monsoon, but not the six months of snow cover.
Primula Pulverulenta, about which I’ve written extensively here and here, is a robust candelabra for a damp soil. Normally deep violet, this pink version is ‘Bartley Strain’. I’m not wild about pink on the whole, but this is a delicate colour, well set off by the farina on the stems and by the yellow eye. I only have a few plants, but I can see it making an interesting bloc of colour somewhere – if only I can find a place where it can be delicately pink all on its own, unbesmirched by red or orange competitors
This is one of a batch of pulverulenta seedlings I planted out last summer, and its parent has obviously bred with something yellow – in all probability p.chungensis. It’s close enough to the officially recognised cross primula xchunglenta for me to describe it as such (although there are more restrained versions than mine). It’s extremely vigorous, and is shouldering its way past all its properly purple siblings, demanding attention and throwing up more and more flower stems of that….colour. How to describe it? Orange with a tint of salmon, lightening to fried egg with strawberries? It’s not unimpressive, but it’s not for me. Compost heap, I think, unless anyone out there wants it?