by James Alexander-Sinclair

I got a very lovely surprise in the post this week. Not chocolate, [...] not riches beyond compare, [...] but lots of small packets of seed.

Packets of primula seedI got a very lovely surprise in the post this week. Not chocolate (I'm pretty sure that we've all had quite enough of that for the moment), not riches beyond compare (they must have got lost in transit somewhere), but lots of small packets of seed.

The story behind their arrival is as follows: a month or two ago I went to lecture at the excellent Garden Museum in London given by a clever and entertaining fellow called Professor James Hitchmough. James works at the University of Sheffield and, in brief, his speciality is perennial meadows. He studies plant groupings from around the world and then recreates them for use in urban parks and landscapes. One of the pictures he showed made a great impression on me: it was of a recreation of a Tibetan yak pasture crowded with primulas at the RHS Garden, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire.

I have a client who owns a very wet and scraggy field, which we have christened the 'manky field', in contrast with the neighbouring pasture, which is known as the 'not-so-manky field'. I started wondering whether we could transform with 'pasture'-style planting. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was giving a lecture in Edinburgh (about which I wrote last week). While there I met a charming nurserywoman called Stella Rankin of Kevock Garden Plants. We talked about primulas, and as a result she has sent me a fine selection of seeds with the promise of more to come in the autumn. So in the next few weeks I will plant some and see how things turn out. According to the Professor early summer is a good moment to start.

For those of you who like lists, the varieties of primula include Primula sikkimensis, P. secundiflora, P. chungensis, P. beesiana, P. bulleyana and P. florindae.

Hopefully I will be able to report progress with my primula 'pasture' at this time next year.

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Talkback: Primulas
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Gardeners' World Web User 14/04/2009 at 19:41

I adore Primulas and have far too many so if you need some plants let me know when you come to Malvern in May

Gardeners' World Web User 14/04/2009 at 20:01

I love Primulas, I have a variety in the garden, and am always on the look out for different colour combinations, I am building my stock back up in the new garden, we moved house in April 07. I am thinking of trying a few Auricula's too.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2009 at 15:43

I too love primulas and this year the show is stupendous. You have to keep splitting them up either before or just after flowering to keep them going but it is very easy to do. The native primrose seems to be constantly in flower in Bristol - at least the last two years because of the wet summers. Primulas love it damp.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2009 at 06:08

what a good idea, we have a small muddy area, i think i may have a go on a smaller scale....

Gardeners' World Web User 17/04/2009 at 09:23

could i have one

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