Thursday, April 29, 2010

Such an impeccable little polyanthus....

Primrose, auricula, polyanthus... don't ask me about the differences between these little spring bloomers, as I'm not sure how they are classified correctly. They are all members of the Primulaceae family, and have been loved by gardeners and florists during the last couple of centuries. Penelope Hobhouse mentions them to have been bought to Britain by the Huguenots by 1700, and then having been popular florist's flowers during the 18th century. Those days collectors often displayed their finest specimens in so called Auricula Theaters, which were decorative cases with shelves for easy viewing of the plants. I found this little impeccable one in my friend's garden, here on the Eastside of Seattle (you know where, if you have been reading my posts lately...). Almost over its prime and petals already a bit tattered, it still looked like a vintage Chanel suit in black velvet with a perfect trim in gold.
The little primrose is very much like Gold Laced Polyanthus from Barnhaven Primroses, described as a "florist's polyanthus, bred to exacting standards for more than two centuries"; exactly the kind of plant one can expect to find in the garden it grows in. Barnhaven has an interesting history from the Pacific Northwest point of view: Florence Bellis, who developed a passion for primroses in the 1930s, founded Barnhaven Primroses in Oregon, on the west coast of the US. For a long time, she researched the subject at the Oregon University and was one of the founders of the America Primrose Society, working as a Editor of the Society for several years. In the end of 1960s she sold her business to a couple in the UK. Since then, Barnhaven Primroses has won several awards for its primroses, and it has been operating from North Brittany, France, since 1990. So my association to a vintage Chanel suit was not so much amiss, after all...
The New York Botanical Garden has an Auricula Theater on display, April 16 through May 9, 2010. Auricula Theaters have been used since the 17th century to exhibit collections of fine specimens of the species.


nilla|utanpunkt said...

Jag har den vanliga engelska "bonn"-primulan i trädgården. Egentligen lite platt och mesig, och ingen vacker gul, men jag har grupperat ihop dem i ett tjockt "band" och nu blir jag lite glad över deras skrikiga vårhälsning. Den du visar är långt mer sofistikerad - och mycket fint fångad på din bild.

Ruben said...

Du har verkligen ett sjätte sinne, både vad gäller blommors härkomst - eller är det kanske en känsla mode? Vacker som en dröm!
Ha det gott och sköt om de små liven! /Ruben