Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Great Auricula swindle ...or...what AM I nurturing in the greenhouse ?

Auricula 'Averil Hunter'

I have imposters in my greenhouse ... plants that are in there, being nurtured under false pretences !

Like cuckoos in the nest, they are not what they should be !

I thought they were Auriculas ... nope !! So what ARE they ? I hope someone can identify them for me ...

Now, I have come late to Auriculas, and it has taken me more than 50 years to appreciate them in all their stiff loveliness. I first saw them on the stall of the National Auricula Society in Gateshead, in Spring of this year, and I fell in love, buying as many as I could carry.

Within weeks, a couple of the babies I had bought began to bud and then to flower.

I bought more... then, of course, had nowhere to display them, until my partner spotted an old pair of wide, wooden steps in a Reclamation Yard for £15. Did we paint them ? Nooo, shabby chic won the day, so we left them just as we found them.

I like Auriculas and I also like bargains, so I started hunting for them online. There were lots of them, grown by loving enthusiasts and the plants were cheap enough, but the postage was RIDICULOUS !

Ever parsimonious, I decided to buy Auricula seed instead and bought a packet from a specialist amateur grower who showed his plants. Said seeds duly arrived from Ebay and I planted them according to the good, detailed instructions. I had expected slow growth for some reason, and quite demanding seedlings.

They grew extremely vigorously... and bushy ... and quite large...

 I kept tending and feeding my growing cuckoos with nagging doubts. The plants I was growing did not resemble my mature Auriculas in any way ! Their leaves were quite fleshy and thick, not thin, long and dark green like my seedlings. The leaves were a different shape, colour, texture and growth pattern! Hmm!


who knows ?

I told myself that the immature plants may look different, initially, to my mature Auriculas, but nothing changed as they grew larger.

When I introduced 'My Auriculas' to a knowledgeable friend she looked at me in a rather pitying way, and pointed out what I knew in my heart to be true...

Those plants are not Auriculas...

These are Auriculus :

and these ...

I am sure the seeds were sent in error, and that someone else is shaking their heads over a healthy crop of Auriculas they were not expecting. This seed swap was not intentional, and was due, I am sure, to good old human error. As I have made my own share of mistakes in the past (particularly where the garden is concerned!) so surely I can forgive and forget.

 But, how could it take me so long to realise the error ?

And, more to the point ... what are they ??

Any ideas please ? I did wonder if they are Sweet Williams, but not too sure about that !

I would love to know what my cuckoos really are ...


  1. I have no idea what they are, though they look a bit like the carnations that are slow-motion growing in my garden.

    Never mind as long a they don't start walking towards the house you'll be fine.
    All the best

  2. Oooh , might they be Triffids ??? I'd better watch out, Grace !! x

  3. I don't know, but maybe it will be a fun surprise when they finally bloom! I do love your ladder of auriculas.

    1. Hi HolleyGarden, can't wait to find out !! The stepladder was WAY cheaper than an Auricula Theatre !

  4. I love a guessing game. Are they wallflowers (Erysimum cheiri)... or bellflowers (Campanula)? Whatever they turn out to be, you have done an excellent job of propagating them and I really hope that Jane is wrong.

    Beautiful auriculas - and a fab way of displaying them.

  5. Thanks, gardening shoe ! My partner guessed wallflowers too ! Guess I will have to wait until they flower !

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I love auriculas but I've never grown them myself. The wooden steps are a great way to display them. I'm guessing at wallflowers for your cuckoo in the nest.

    1. Thanks Jo ... wallflowers are winning at the mo !

  7. Gorgeous Auriculas - a shame you have cuckoo in the nest!
    My first thought was Campanula persicifolia but the more I look the more I agree - wallflower. What ever they turn out to be - I hope they are keepers :)

  8. Hi Angie, after the love I have lavished on them they had better be keepers !! Another vote for wallflowers ... that's fine, I like wallflowers! They do look a little Campanula like don't they ...

  9. How lovely Auricula 'Averil Hunter'!

  10. She is such a pretty girl, Stephanie !!


Thanks for visiting and reading.
I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...