Sunday, March 30, 2008

Getting to know two new members

From Carol Eichler, chair:

I recently received messages from two new members who joined this year:

Nancy Adams writes: I have a love of native plants and selections from natives - a lot of great ornamental plants come from them. I also like succulents, sedums and sempervivums a lot- funky and little and often able to deal with extremes in climate and living conditions. I have worked at Cornell Plantations for the better part of twenty years, and had the great good luck to work with a variety of really cool plants and some really good people. I think the rock garden folks get to work with some neat, unusual plants and there is always something interesting that is going on with their gardens. I like the variety of ways that people interpret and plant their rock gardens too.

Kathy Purdy writes: I garden on 15 acres of acid clay in the hamlet of Triangle, halfway between Greene and Whitney Point. I am a homeschooling mother of a large family and read (that's past tense) a lot of gardening books while breastfeeding, no formal horticultural training. When we moved here, there were colchicums already planted by a former owner, and I've gotten quite interested in them, wrote an article for The American Gardener last fall. I also love the genus Narcissus and am struggling to eliminate invasive plants and incorporate more native plants, especially spring ephemerals. (Let's face it, the goldenrod and asters don't need my help.) There are plenty of rocks here, but I can't say I'm a rock gardener, just interested in interesting plants.

In addition to writng for garden magazines, Kathy is also a pioneer in the world of garden blogging.  You can read her blog posts at Cold Climate Gardening: Hardy Plants for Hardy Souls (  If you're thinking of starting your own blog, you should also read her Blogging Art and Practice blog (

Welcome Nancy and Kathy!

From the chair

From Carol Eicher, chair:

Transplanting has been on my mind a lot the past two weeks. I’ve been trying to keep up with seedlings as they grow and need to be potted out of their starter flats. I confess the whole repotting thing is a bit of a project and messy – finding a block of time to set up and meticulously handle the delicate and tiny sprouts. It’s an activity best held outdoors but of course it’s been far too cold. For a brief moment I’m caught up until the next wave – my emerging vegetable seeds – demand more room. Already I’m out of space under my grow lights. Ah space. No matter how much allotted room we have, is this not a constant gardener’s plight?

I for one will be very happy to see April 19 come, the day of our next meeting, because that means I’ll be able to rid myself of lots of seedlings to share with you in my quest to gain more growing room.

I’m excited about some of my babies. Of the 3 alliums that have germinated, Allium caeruleum looks very interesting at 24 inches tall with blue flowers. I’m ecstatic to have a dozen young Gentiana septemfida plants. They were so tiny and difficult to transplant but look like they’ll survive! Then there are still more small plants that show promise for the rock garden - Ephedra minima, Erysimum nivale, Horminum pyrenaicum, Leontopodium alpinum, and Scutellaria alpina, to name a few – nothing particularly rare, simply the thrill of seeing the miracle of their emergence.

To get the most out of our seedling exchange I hope you’ll bring seedlings by your own hand or self-sown volunteers from your garden. Note the change of venue for this meeting. The head house at Ken Post Lab is the perfect place to handle our messy plant transactions. The plant exchange will follow our speaker presentation – the details of both are contained in this newsletter. It will be a full meeting to be sure and one I hope you have marked your calendar to attend.

Happy Gardening,


Seedling exchange at April meeting

From David Mitchell, plant sales coordinator:

Don't miss our seedling exchange at this year's April meeting. After a great lecture, we'll dig into our seedlings, divide them up, and hope to see them again in your garden and at one of our plant sales.

You may bring your seedlings in individual pots or one large pot. We'll have soil, pots, and labels on hand to help with the transfer to a good home. You do not have to bring seedlings to get seedlings. Oh, and did I mention that this exchange is free! free! free!?

Folks are also welcome to bring divisions of plants, labeled, and potted or not, to be reserved for the May plant sale. In the meantime, good luck with your seeds and may you be able to share your successes in April!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

News from National

Singing the Praises of our "Unsung Heroes"

A new feature has been introduced in the Winter 2008 NARGS Bulletin Board (supplement to the Rock Garden Quarterly). Writes NARGS President Dick Bartlett:

[NARGS] is a fantastic and interesting society with a wide collection of unique and dedicated gardeners. We like to think of ourselves as a special kind of gardeners who are interested in the difficult to grow and rare and unusual plants. But there is another aspect to our society, which we need to be aware of. Our society contains many individuals who are also dedicated to their particular chapters. Although sometimes recognized with chapter awards, they deserve special recognition by our entire society.
Hence the creation of this new feature. Anyone is invited to profile and recognize individuals from their Chapter who deserve recognition for their dedication to the work they do to keep the local Chapter going and thriving.

Submit your “unsung hero” story to Dick Bartlett at

NARGS Bulletin Board goes electronic

In an effort to provide more frequent communications, the NARGS Bulletin is now posted on the NARGS website and its paper-copy version is gradually being phased out. Visit "From the President" ( to keep abreast of news from our parent organization.

Why not join NARGS National?

Membership in the National NARGS may be one of the best $30 bargains to be found! Membership gives you a subscription to the Rock Garden Quarterly, eligibility to participate in the rock garden Seed Exchange, and discount rates on plant books. Any titles published by Timber/Workman Press, whether they are listed on the NARGS website or not, are available to NARGS members through the Book Service at 20% off retail.

Of course, all of us in our local Chapter receive the benefit of the speaker tours which bring renown plantspeople from the world over to bring us programs - something we could never afford to do on our own. Lastly, with your membership you join a national and international network of gardeners and help secure this amazing organization for the future.

Membership is just a click away, so check it out:

Stonecrop Open House and Plant Sale April 26

Stonecrop Gardens Open House and Plant Sale, April 26, Cold Spring, N.Y., is looking more inviting all the time. Besides viewing the woodland and rock gardens at a choice time, the number of vendors participating in the plant sale has expanded and promises to be a virtual one-stop shop for the delectable and rare.

Here’s a list of nurseries attending:

Alpines Mont Echo - Specialist of choice Alpine and Rock Garden plants with an emphasis on Primulas, Saxifrages, Campanulas, Woodland Plants and Dwarf Shrubs.

Carol's Collectibles - A small nursery in Northeast Connecticut specializing in unusual and hard to find rhododendrons, dwarf conifers, perennials and rock garden plants.

Evermay Nursery - A micro nursery specializing in Alpine plants and Primula species, and hybrids hardy for the Northeast.

Les Plantons A & P - A family-owned nursery specialising in dwarf and unusual conifers and shrubs, many suitable for troughs and small rock gardens and grown for northern gardens.

Wrightman Alpines - Grower and Supplier of Alpine Plants

For more information go to A number of AC-NARGS members attended last year on an "official" day trip. If anyone wants to take the initiative to organize a trip this year, please don’t be shy – let me know ASAP (

Celebrate Trilliums!

From Carol Eichler:

Mt. Cuba Center and its sponsoring partners invite you to the Trillium Symposium April 17-19.  The setting for the symposium is the Brandywine Valley, an area in Northern Delaware known for its natural beauty, world-class museums, and magnificent gardens.

The purpose of this two-day conference (and optional third-day field trip) is to bring together academic and industry professionals as well as expert gardeners to address the science, conservation, and horticulture of trilliums of Eastern North America. Attendees will gain an understanding of the biology of trilliums, their ecology, conservation challenges, and issues impacting their propagation and production. Colleagues with a wide range of expertise share ideas and information to further our understanding of this intriguing genus. For details:

From the symposium website. Note there is a fee to attend.

Catalog suggestions

Wild Ginger Farm - From David Mitchell: Here's a nursery Jerry [Yeager] discovered in Oregon. The owner just spoke at their NARGS chapter. Has some interesting How-Tos.

Sunshine Farm and Gardens - From BZ Marranca: "Anyone interested in doing a bulk order from this guy? There was some interest in Primula japonica last fall but I was too busy to deal with it. So far this spring it's a little slow. We have until March 31 for the specials. I would ask you to get in touch with me by March, 25 to give me time to collate our order. I would be interested in Kniphofia, Hellebores and the Primula."

It's a little late now for a group order. (Sorry for being slow in posting this.) But the catalog is worth checking out and maybe doing a group order next year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John Londsdale's slide list

If you missed Saturday's Woodland Treasures presentation by John Lonsdale, you missed a good one.  You can get a flavor of his presentation by visiting his Edgewood Gardens website.  You can also view his slide list here.  But be forewarned:  Not all are hardy in Zone 5.

Garden Conservancy Open Days in Tompkins County

Details are now available for Garden Conservancy Open Days.  Of regional interest:  
  • April 5, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm:  Hitch Lyman, Trumansburg, N.Y.   A unique collection of over 400 snowdrop varieties along with other very early spring flowers. The 1848 Greek Revival-style farmhouse was moved to this site in 1990.

  • June 14, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm:  Four gardens in Ithaca including Fogel Garden, Barb's Little Acre, Sears Garden and Lion Garden.

  • July 12, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm: Four more gardens in Ithaca including Gouldin Garden, Jim and Barrs Garden, Daniel W. Krall Garden, and David Watkins Jr. Garden.

  • July 13, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm: Four Syracuse-area gardens.  
Follow the links to more information and maps on the Garden Conservancy website, or see the full national schedule.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Meeting with Dick and Mary George

From Carol Eichler:
I've set up an 11:00 a.m. meeting with Dick and Mary George prior to our general program meeting on Sat. March 15th to put our heads together about planning for their White Pine Camp rock garden. Some of you have expressed interest in spending a weekend there in early summer so this meeting would be in preparation, doing some initial planning in order to optimize our time on-site.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March newsletter

The March newsletter in printer-friendly .pdf format is here:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Janis Ruksans bulb order

If you are considering joining the group bulb order from Janis Ruksans' bulb nursery in Latvia, please contact John Gilrein ASAP: or 315-492-0844.

Find details about the group order in the February newsletter or this blog post:

Carol Eichler commented on that post:

Here's a great resource for finding images of bulbs from Ruksans catalog (image pages from the Pacific Bulb Society): You'll still have to do additional homework to figure out hardiness (Ruksans book, a good map, etc.). Then there's trying to determine if our summers work for a particular bulb cultivar considering it may be too wet here. That might be a little hit and miss. Have fun everyone!

You can view Ruksans' catalog here:

Speaker added for November meeting

Late program update from vice-chair and program coordinator Robin Bell:  Our Novemer 15 annual meeting and dish-to-pass will feature a presentation by Tony Reznicek, curator of the University of Michigan Herbarium on a topic to be determined.  Should be a treat.

News from National: Time to Apply for Norman Singer Grants

Via Carol Eichler, chair:

National NARGS is now soliciting applicants for the coming year for Norman Singer grants. The application deadline is April 1, 2008 so the Committee review and decision can be made before the NARGS Annual Meeting, June 12-15, 2008. Applications should be sent electronically to Phyllis Gustafson

In past years, NARGS National has funded rock garden projects at botanic gardens, expeditions in search of seed suitable for rock garden culture, internships requested by botanic gardens, and help with publications pertinent to alpine plants. The funds are not unlimited - most grants are in the range of $1,500 to a high of $5,000. The "Guidelines" can be found on the NARGS website here:

For further questions you may contact Phyllis at the following address: 250 Maple St. Central Point, OR 97502 or by email:

Congrats to Stipend Recipients

Via Carol Eichler, chair:

Our Chapter will be well-represented at this year’s Eastern Winter Study Weekend this March in Connecticut thanks to “a little help from [their] friends.” The Grants Committee announces that Susanne Lipari has received a one-time stipend from the Chapter to attend and David Mitchell has received a stipend from NARGS National. Both promise to report back to us about all the wonderful presentations they will see. You can check out the line up of speakers, vendors and more here

David will be representing the Chapter at the NARGS Board meeting while Susanne is planning to assemble an exhibit illustrating some of our Chapter activities and highlighting our new blog site.

Display Boards and a Bulletin Board - Something old/Something new

Via Carol Eichler, chair:

We hope to engage your continuing participation in sharing garden photos – your garden or others –at our meetings. Contact either Craig Cramer ( or myself ( 607-387-5823) to pick up one of the display boards so that you may mount and display your pictures at one of our meetings. Begun a few years ago, the display boards are a way for us to share highlights of the gardening season.

New for this year – we now offer a bulletin board (resembling the display boards but without the photos) for you to post information about upcoming garden programs, events, tours, etc. While we try to offer time at the meetings for announcements, the bulletin board is another means for sharing information about great garden happenings that others might want to know about.

A True Adirondack Garden

Via Carol Eichler, chair:

Dick and Mary George reported at our February meeting that they are involved with a huge rock garden restoration project at White Pine Camp, near Paul Smiths in the Adirondack high peak region. Located on Osgood Lake, the history of this great camp includes having served as the summer White House for President Calvin Coolidge. The restoration effort, described more accurately as an archeological excavation, is moving along, with still much to do before the dedication scheduled for Sunday August 10th at 11:00 a.m., which includes a formal tour of the property, music and refreshments. They will be sending a formal invitation to the Adirondack Chapter and would be delighted to have a delegation or the entire membership attend!

Mary and Dick report they are still willing to put some of our members up for a couple of nights at White Pine Camp in exchange for some consulting advice on plantings. Be sure to check out their well-designed web site for a look at the camp, guest quarters and more. If you’re interested, you would need to work out a date with them, probably mid-June would work best since it is after snow melt but still before the high season begins. They state they are novices and could use the advice of experience. The man who designed and built the rock garden was Frederic Heutte, a French immigrant who received a presidential commendation from Calvin Coolidge for the garden. Heutte went on to achieve national acclaim and The Frederic Heutte Center in Norfolk Va. was named for him. Unfortunately Heutte did not keep good plant records. Fortunately, Mary does and is!

Of course they would be very grateful for any plant specimens (remember they are Zone 3 there but do get good snow cover) our members are willing to share too. The garden is comprised of several stone mounds covering and area 100 feet by 100 feet with a tall canopy of trees and mostly likely a highly acidic soil. To contact Dick and Mary email them at

Want to get serious about helping out? Contact Carol Eichler or 607-387-5823. She will coordinate a working week-end to the camp in June.

News from National: Building a Lasting Membership Base

 Via Carol Eichler, chair:

How do we recruit new members to our Chapter? How can the Chapter play a part in recruiting new members to NARGS National? How can we retain our members?

NARGS National’s Membership Committee met to address these issues and their report was sent to me by Dick Bartlett, NARGS President. The national organization has well-documented statistics that show a steady and significant decline in its membership.

At one time or another, we have implemented virtually every idea that was listed in the report. Our own membership has seen its ups and downs but seems to be holding steady and it is no doubt the synergy of all these membership strategies that makes a difference.

Here are several things that I sense have been key for our chapter. First and foremost we offer great programs on a wide range of topics – often found nowhere else in our community We make sure press releases are sent out about our programs to attract the greater community. This adds to the visibility of the May plant sale which is another strong and dependable recruiting tool.

Additionally, our meetings include time for people to talk to each other. More than any other thing we do, we try to be inclusive and engaging. A few years ago we began our February “members share” meeting to kick-off the program year. Beginning with a few brave people who modestly shared photos or garden stories, it has grown to our fullest program yet this year with several presenters offering some fantastic slide shows. Even more recently we began asking members to make up posters of garden photos (simpler than a slide show and something that can be shared year round). Plus we now have a bulletin board for posting other garden activities such as sales, tours, and programs. We want our members to take some responsibility for “owning” the Chapter.

One last member incentive is that we get people growing rock garden plants. Our plant-of-the-month sale (buy one, get one free for members) has been enormously successful in making rock garden plants more affordable and getting into people’s gardens while expanding their knowledge base and their interest.

I might boldly suggest that more important than looking at “dues paying members” to assess how we are doing, we should examine our attendance numbers at meetings and the number of active, contributing participants. From this perspective our Chapter is looking very strong! Our plant sales, which are dependent on contributors and buyers, have been steadily increasing over time. And this year, 2008, we have more members serving in leadership roles than we’ve had in a long time. We have had to work at both of these accomplishments.

Go to to stay in touch with news from our parent organization.

Other primulas from Nari's garden

Despite his lack of success with alpine primulas, ACNARGS member Nari Mistry passes along these image of other primulas from his garden.  

Primula 'April Rose'

Primula 'Juliana'

Primula 'Sue Jarvis'

My sad experience with tiny alpine primulas

Nari's pots plunged into scree in semi-shadeEditor's note: This is from ACNARGS member Nari Mistry.

In November 2004 I decided to try starting some alpines from seed. Among others, I had seeds of Primula auricula and P. marginata. I wanted to grow some tiny primulas like I had seen growing at high altitudes in Nepal in 1995. I knew nothing about the careful culture needed by these alpine primulas.

I did not want to fuss with indoor lights, etc. So I started them in little 4-inch pots filled with a mixture of equal parts leafmold, sand, PRO seedstarter, and Profile (similar to Turface). I plunged all these pots into a semi-shady scree, covered the whole area with wire mesh to protect from animals and wished them well for the winter!

P. auricula is expected to take two years to start seed, so I did not expect miracles.

P. marginata showed a few very tiny leaves in May 2005 which I carefully nurtured through the spring and summer, eventually transferring each tiny seedling into its own pot of similar soil. These were left in the scree over winter. The scree is always covered over with wire mesh for protection every winter.

I added a little osmocote in each pot in the spring. P. marginata continued to develop very very slowly through 2006, growing barely to one inch in diameter by Fall 2006. Two of the plants each developed a single miniscule flower! I did not take a picture, hoping for better bloom the next year.

In October I transplanted three plants directly into the same scree, tucked next to rocks. These did grow a little bigger in 2007 but the leaves soon began to look pale and finally the wet weather finished them off in 2007. The ones left in pots vanished even earlier. P.  auricula never germinated, although for 2006 I took the pots indoors and kept hoping.

In 2007 I also tried two tiny seedlings (P. allionii and P.  clusiana) brought by Harvey Wrightman on his March visit. One was planted in a semi-shady trough and one in a flat "alpine bed" next to the scree. Alas, neither of them survived the year. They both looked soggy and finally disappeared by late fall.

Sad story! I guess these little beauties are more suited in our area to an alpine house, or at least need to be in a cold frame or indoors in the winter. Perhaps I will try again after reading Rock garden primulas.

Rock garden primulas

Editor’s note: This article by the late Ken Girard was originally published in 1999 in the CRAGS Newsletter, “The Voice of the Calgary Rock and Alpine Garden Society” (, and republished in that group’s Feb. 2008 newsletter. Ken was also president of the Calgary Horticultural Society. Keep in mind that Calgary is not Upstate New York. According to Wikipedia, “Calgary has a semi-arid, highland continental climate with long, dry, but highly variable, winters and short, moderately warm summers (Koppen climate classification BSk, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3b).”

Some of my very first experiences with gardening in the great outdoors were with primulas, known to me then as hardy African violets – at least that’s what I called them. I wasn’t familiar with the proper names of many perennials at eight years old, but I had always admired plants lining the walkway to my piano teacher’s door. She grew African violets inside, so these must have been outside ones. One spring these plants had been, in my estimation, decimated, hardly anything left. I asked what had happened and was told that they had been thinned and the leftovers were behind the fence if I wanted any. Did I and how? So began my love affair with Auricula or Dusty Miller primulas.

Nothing says spring to me like a clump of Primula auricula in full bloom. The foliage is succulent with varying degrees of grey, white, gold or silver farina and the flowers are held above the foliage on stems which are also covered in farina. Flower colour ranges from palest yellow to rich gold; violet purple to mauve, as well as pink, cerise and red. Including novelty colours such as brown, tan and green, there are auriculas for everyone’s taste. Auriculas have been such favourite plants for many years in England that there are whole societies dedicated to them and the hybridization that is taking place is absolutely amazing.

I have found it easiest to grow auriculas in semi-shade to full sun as long as the soil does not bake for extended periods of time. In fact too much shade will weaken a clump of Auricula primulas faster than anything else, followed closely by soggy soil. Most of the plants in my garden grow in areas where the tops are in sun most of the day but the roots are carefully tucked behind rock. The soil is composed of 50% grit, 25% compost and 25% of a manure/loam mix. Many of these primulas will actually grow in Calgary gumbo but do far better in a rock garden mix. They flower more profusely and tend to grow in tighter clumps.

The species that comprise this group of primulas are definitely garden worthy as are many of their hybrids and most of them are hardy for us if given a little winter protection. The earliest plants in this group of primulas to flower for me is Primula marginata, a species with lavender flowers and beautifully serrated leaves. The flowers appear in mid-April and last for a few weeks. The plants themselves are rather small when compared to others of the clan and fit well in troughs and dish gardens as well as smaller rock gardens. The foliage stays fresh for most of the summer but eventually goes yellow and dries off by September, leaving behind the large winter bud which contains next years leaves and flowers. There are many selections of P. marginata worth obtaining and growing as well as it’s many hybrids. One of the most popular hybrids is P. ‘Linda Pope’, a fantastic plant with large lavender flowers held well above the beautifully serrated leaves. Some hybrids lose the intensity of the serration on the leaves.

A species which needs to be more popular is Primula hirsuta. It is a mid-sized plant, grows about four inches across in tight clumps, mid-green in colour with a light farina. The flowers are hot pink to cerise depending on the plant. I purchased Primula hirsuta at a nursery on the west coast, planted it, it survived beautifully and bloomed the next year. It was so spectacular, I promptly went back to that nursery the next spring and purchased five more. Hopefully we will see more of them in the near future.

The main species of the Primula auricula group are medium- to large-growing plants that have beautiful fragrant flowers held above the foliage. The original species have small delicate flowers covered in white farina and come in yellow and purple. Plants can range from four to over eight inches in diameter and grow into rather large clumps. The leaves are succulent and usually covered in either silver or gold farina. With the extensive hybridization and selection that has taken place these primulas can now be had in almost any colour except true black, but there are such dark purple ones out there that from a distance they look black. The flowers can come in several colour patterns: selfs (one colour throughout), goldbands, white-eyed, yellow-eyed, completely covered in farina. The possibilities are endless. There are now double-flowering selections, but I have found these to be less hardy and definitely less vigorous than the single forms. They are definitely for the collector and need a little extra coaxing to do well.

Hybrids between the various species of plants in this group of primulas are popular with gardeners and deservedly so. With hybridization, a wide range of plant sizes, growth habits and flowering seasons and colours has been produced. Primula x pubescens (Primula auricula x P. hirsuta) is a desirable grouping of plants giving rise to many of the best garden cultivars. Primula ‘Beverly White’, P. ‘Rufus’, P. ‘Boothman’s Variety’ are all selections of Primula x pubescens. There are many more out there to be had and tried.

Other primula species that I have grown are P. glaucescens which is a small plant for the trough or crevice garden with lavender-pink flowers in small clusters. Primula belluensis is a bit larger than P. glaucescens and has rose to pink coloured flowers. Both of these species require soil with good drainage to do their best. A very choice species in this group is Primula allionii. A rock gardener's dream! It is a diminutive plant well worth growing. Many people grow it in troughs or pans and everyone says, do not get the leaves wet, especially in winter. Those growing it here say that the trick is to make sure it has perfect drainage; grow it sideways or upside down in a crevice with no direct sun. Because we do not have the same problem with winter wet here as many people on the coast do, this worry may be unfounded. There are hybrids of P. allionii available that are definitely worth trying such as P. x miniera (P. allionii x P. marginata). Hopefully through hybridization the exacting requirements of P. allionii can be alleviated a bit.

By late summer all of these plants are beginning to get ready for winter. This year’s leaves will begin to yellow, eventually drying out. These leaves should be left for winter protection as next year’s leaves and flowers will already be produced in a resting winter bud. Do not let the plants ice over or stay too soggy during the winter, this can lead to stem or root rot which is very unfavourable. Some of the more delicate species and hybrids may need some winter protection from sun and wind so a light covering of straw would be best. A mulch which absorbs moisture and keeps the plants wet can be detrimental to the plants.

Fertilizing is best done in the spring with a surface dusting of bone meal applied around the plants. I try to keep the nitrogen to a minimum as this promotes large lush leaf growth, reduces flowering and may make the plants too soft for wintering properly. Dividing is best done either after flowering or in early fall as the plants Primula x pubescens Windrush are going dormant. I prefer division after flowering but can’t always get to it As the clumps grow the stems become rather unsightly, especially on the larger plants. Clumps are best lifted removing the soil from around the roots and with a sharp knife cut through the plant Try to get a few roots with each piece and replant where you want them setting the plant a bit deeper than it originally was so that the buried stem can root out. Cuttings can also be taken, these are best done in late spring and kept in a cool moist area until rooting has taken place and planted out in the garden in the fall or for really tender or rare plants next spring, wintering in a cold frame.

I have had very few pest problems with primulas but occasionally see aphids on the soft tender growth or flower stalks. Gently removing aphids either by hand or a gentle stream of water usually works during the growing season. Watch for black aphids in and around the winter crowns in late summer and be prepared to use an insecticide to eradicate them. Slugs may feast on the leaves especially in spring so be on the lookout for their tell tale trails and leaf damage.

As you can see there are many species and varieties of rock garden primulas just in this group that are worth trying. All garden centres carry the regular P. auricula type hybrids but you need to go early if you want to select and purchase them in flower. Seed from seed exchanges is another way to obtain these treasures but one needs to be patient when growing primulas from seed, and sometimes the seed can be mislabeled or possibly of hybrid origin. Named varieties and true alpine treasures need to be ordered from specialty nurseries and shared amongst your friends through trading and selling at plant sales; Go ahead try a few, I know you will enjoy these early spring jewels of the alpine garden.