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 !!

  11. This is very good post for me. thanks for this useful infoermation. get one of the Reclaim Yard then visit on our website.


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 ...