Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Marmite of the plant kingdom !


'Nigel'

It's true ! Auriculas are the Marmite of the plant kingdom, as, for every gardener who adores them, there will another one who cannot stand them. For every one person who collects every Auricula they can lay their hands on, there will be another person avoiding them like the plague. So why is it that a plant can divide opinions to such an extent? It is perhaps more complex than it initially seems.

'Blue Chip'




Auriculas have fallen out of favour to a large extent and are languishing in that deep, dark hole still filled with Pinks, carnations and Chrysanthemums. Dahlias were dragged out of the hole, kicking and screaming into the light, a few years ago, but for many years they were out of favour too. Hard to believe how gardeners can be so fickle, I know, and overlook plants which have so much to offer.

'Jeff Scruton'
The Aurcicula was loved by the working man, from 17th century onwards , indeed it was a plant which  was almost revered. Men travelled from show to show to exhibit them, in the hope of winning the big prizes offered, and they were collected and displayed by working and middle classes alike, often in Auricula Theatres. I  posted about their  fascinating history last year, so here is the link if you are interested       'Auricula Spectacular'.

'Golden Hind'

'Golden Hind'
It is the aesthetics of the Auricula which divide people into lovers or haters however, as they are a bit of an acquired taste. There is something very stiff, formal and almost artificial about them, and I must admit, it took me a long time to see beyond that to their true beauty. The flowers are just perfect. Those tight , rounded buds give a clue to the colour of the flower which is extremely tantalising, then when they open it is such a joyful, open face that they present to the world. I love the simplicity of the flower, the wide range of colours and the way that they feel precious. This preciousness is nothing to do with money, as they are cheaper than many plants to buy. I feel the same way about certain roses, and find it hard to analyse why. They are very fleeting flowers, but then so are many others. They are very beautiful flowers, but, so then are many others. They just feel special somehow. Maybe it is the sense of history that they bring with them, and that is also true for the roses. I love plants which have history and reach out to me from across the centuries.

'Nigel'


There is a rich, velvet quality to the petals, and a real depth of colour, yet some look so delicate that they almost look hand painted. For most of the year they sit there, down very little, but the excitement is palpable when the first flowers stems start to grow.

Buds of 'Red Gauntlet'

Buds of 'April Hunter'

There are some Auriculas which are extra special and those are the Farinas. They have glaucous grey foliage and look as if they have been dusted all over with flour, hence 'Farina' (also referred to as 'meal'). They almost look iced or frosted ! The Farina is usually washed off by the rain, so that is why many enthusiasts choose to keep them under cover, in order to preserve it.
Farina
There are many fantastic historical Auricula Theatres used for displaying them over the years, and they are traditionally displayed on black cloth to show them off to advantage. Mine, however, are in a  (cough) 'Theatre' which cost a few pounds from our local Architectural Salvage yard - a pair of old wooden steps, with the paint peeling off. I use terracotta pots to display them in, but there is a school of thought which prefers plastic pots, which do not dry out as readily.




I am a couple of weeks away from the height of my personal display of Auriculas and they are nearly all budding or starting to bloom. My only problem is my big, fat clumsy fantail doves which insist on trying to perch on the top of the steps and knock off the pots, usually resulting in breakages !


Last Autumn I divided lots of my Auriculas and potted up all the babies, so I have a good selection of young plants in the greenhouse. I intend to sell these on the plant stall at our upcoming NGS plant stall in June.









39 comments:

  1. Haha, I adore Auriculas and my husband hates them. I've written about them every year in April and at the moment they start flowering again. As I display them in the greenhouse, I smell the lovely fragrance when I enter. May be I ask my husband once to make a real Victorian Auricula theatre but I doubt he will do it. They look nice on the old steps outside, but the doves make me smiling, they hate them too, especially on top of the steps.
    Wish you a happy new gardening week!

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    1. Hi Janneke and thanks for your comments! I look forward to reading about your Auriculas ! I love them but lots of gardening friends don't. I have a new flower out today 'Averil Hunter' - so beautiful. Do you have a favourite ?

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  2. This lovely flowers and I do not understand why some people do not like them. Regards.

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    1. Hi Giga. I must admit that I didn't appreciate the attractions of the Auricula for many years!!

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  3. Talk of marmite has me heading off to the kitchen. Love the stuff and now I'll have to have some.
    I love auriculas too but sadly they do not reciprocate. I've never been able to keep one alive. Interesting that you have yours in the greenhouse, I'll have to try that next. Doesn't it get too hot?

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    1. Me too ! Marmite on toast is one of life's pleasures!
      I wonder why Auriculas do not love you as you love them? I have found them very straightforward and easy to keep, but, you know how it is, some plants fit right in and others never seem to settle. Bit like people I guess ! I have had many other plants which have died long, lingering deaths in my tender care !!

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  4. Ha! Great comparison. I don't have any Auriculas, myself, but I do think they're interesting plants. You have a great collection!

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    1. Hi PP , must have more ! I have an urge to keep collecting! I am looking out for shows nearby so I can buy different varieties!

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  5. I don't have any but my goodness they are stunning! I am drawn to their blooms as they are one of the most symmetrical blooms I have ever seen! Just so beautiful!! I do hope that you don't have any breakage this season and look forward to seeing all of these bloom! Wishing you a lovely week! Nicole

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    1. Hi Nicole, and thank you for your comments. They are a most unusual bloom, and , as you say, they are so symmetrical.

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  6. I love them, I can' t understand how anyone could hate them. They are stunning.What a good idea using a step ladder as a theatre. The ones you sent me are doing very well and I am thrilled with them. Thank you so much.

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    1. Hi Chloris, so pleased yours are doing well. Are they budding yet ? Some of the other babies are flowering but some are waiting until next year I think !

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  7. Beautiful & cute petal with a nice color...I never plant & see this type of flower in my country home before. Maybe not suittable with the climate..but I really enjoy the beauty!

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    1. Hi Normala, I think Auriculas like a fairly cool climate, and are quite hardy. Thank you for your comments.

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  8. Although I don't grow any, I can see the attraction. I think displayed in a theatre or as you have on those old steps you get the most out of them and when they put on their display, can be hard to beat. I'll be looking forward to your post when yours are in blooms. Good luck with keeping those pesky birds away!

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    1. Hi Angie, those pesky birds might be rehired soon ! They eat all my plants then sit on the roof and seem to laugh!

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  9. I like them two (although I only have one!) but I can see why one might not like it. They do look 'too perfect'. It is a bit like zinnas which are loved or hated.

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    1. Hi Alain, I agree about them looking 'too perfect' , they look almost unreal! By some strange coincidence I am growing Zinnias for the first time this year, so, at the moment don't really know how I will feel about them. Are you a zinnia lover or hater ?

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  10. I only have one auricula to date Jane and a step ladder to display it in all its singular glory :) It's 'Late Romantic' and is fabulously scented. I had never given much thought to growing them until I saw an auricula theatre in the garden at Morville Hall and was absolutely entranced. I would definitely be a customer for some of your auricula babies if you were nearer especially if there was a baby 'Nigel' for sale.

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    1. Anna I will gladly send you a little Nigel and a friend or two as I have got loads ! If you email me your address to gardenerforallseason@gmail.com I will pop them in the post!

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    2. How kind of you Jane :) Email to follow.

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  11. Auricula are very interesting and I love the history lesson....as you said, they're waxy or artificial looking....The colors are spectacular! I can't wait to see April Hunter in bloom! To me, they look like cute little monkey faces!

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    1. I see what you mean about the monkey faces ! April Hunter is in bloom already!

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  12. They look wonderful to me. I'm a fan of continuing historical practises when it comes to gardening. I feel like I'm tapping into the wisdom of all those marvellous gardeners. I love Marmite which makes me part of a small minority in North America where it is sadly underappreciated.

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    1. Not appreciate Marmite ! What is the world coming to! We who love it must eat more !

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  13. I do like auriculas but they are difficult to place in the garden other than as specimens in pots.

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    1. Hi Sue, I agree! I can't imagine them in a border at all. I like having them in specimen plants in pots as you can get up close and personal, and really have a good close look at them,

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  14. I've only gotten to see them in pictures, but I'm sure I would be an auricula lover...! I'm equally sure they wouldn't stand a chance here so I will have to continue enjoying them only from photos... hint, hint :) Your collection looks marvelous. I agree that the sense of history enriches one's joy of growing some of these plants, even the humble herbs, and certainly such royalty as roses...

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    1. Yes Amy, I agree that he humble histories are equally as interesting as the royalty, sometimes even more so. Growing these plants gives a wonderful feeling of continuity which I love.

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  15. I think they're pretty enough, but I don't love them nearly as much as other flowers, and I think you've hit the nail on the head as to why. They are too stiff for me. Strangely enough, some look even fake to me, flowering in such perfect round bunches like that. I do love how you've arranged them like that in pots, though. I think that's a great way to display them!

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    1. Hi Indie, they do look almost artificial and so impossibly perfect . There is a stiffness about them . I used to dislike that about them and I don't know what changed , but I now adore those same characteristics !

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  16. I love Auriculas (but not Marmite, we have the even more polarising Vegemite here!) and cannot understand why they fell out of fashion: in fact I haven't seen these beauties for many years and had forgotten about them. Now I'm going to have to hunt them down as almost everything in the primula family is on my wish list :-) You have a lovely garden, indeed. Consider me hooked :-), Matt

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  17. Ooh I've never tasted Vegemite, but presume it is very similar! Yes, hunt them down! They are truly delicious and delightful ! I enjoyed my visit to your blog Matt

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  18. I am a Primula freak Jane, but somehow have never appreciated Auriculas, come to that I am not too fond of Marmite either.

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  19. I've never seen them in the States. They do look fake but so what. I think they're pretty. :o)

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  20. Well, I for one love them (but not the doubles, I'm afraid). Quite a collection Jane. It is probably just as well that my own collection never got off the ground. But perhaps one day ... (BTW steer well clear of Vegemite - no where near as nice as Marmite). Dave

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  21. The yucca to the right of the primula "theater" is more my cup of tea -- more my climate's cup of tea too! Here in the States it goes by Yucca aloifolia 'Blue Boy.'

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