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My small collection of Primula


Primula grow well here in my garden – I seem to have the conditions they like. Over the last couple of years I appear to have started a little collection.

I’ve been trying to sort out many of my garden pictures and was reminded of just how many grow in my garden. The early flowering P. vulgaris are full of buds and indeed a Cowslip – P. veris and P. Don Keefe are flowering now in December!

I thought recording them in a blog would be a useful reference for me and can be added to as and when I add more to my collection.

I will start with my favourite Primula – Primula Elizabeth Killelay. A double form of the old favourite P Gold Lace. She grows in a pot and is kept in the cold frame for winter.

Primula Elizabeth Killelay

New additions to my garden last winter have eye catching foliage to match their pretty little flowers.
From the collection of Kennedy Irish Primula – I’m hoping I can source more of these this coming spring.

Primula vulgaris Innisfree

Primula vulgaris Drumcliffe

The first ever little Primula I purchased for this garden – a pretty little double – I grow it in sun and in shadier parts of the garden. It seems to do well in all situations. In shadier spots it has flowered on and off for most of 2012.

Primula Miss Indigo

Of course, what spring garden would be without the pretty native Primula vulgaris. Hardy, reliable and another one that produces flowers through the year in my garden.

The deep yellow throat of Primula Don Keefe pairs perfectly with Narcissus Jet Fire – I don’t have long to wait to see this combo again! The daffs are already above the surface of the soil.

This Primula found it’s way into my garden via my brother’s garden. I have no idea of it’s identity but another reliable pretty little thing that produces an abundance of flowers.

There are a few more low growing Primula in my collection that I don’t have a picture of – I will add more when they flower in springtime.

We move from the low growing, ground covering Primula to those with a bit more height – you need not get up close and personal to truly enjoy these!

Another new Primula to my garden Spring 2012 – I look forward to this having bulked up and making a big impact come April. It is said not to like direct sun therefore I grow it in a bit of shade.

Primula maximowiczii

Drumstick Primula are always a welcome sight and in my garden those chunky flower heads often appear before the foliage yet take an absolute age to grow. You have to be careful the slugs don’t get to these – they are very fond of them! The down side to growing these Primula is that the foliage can get rather massive in summer. I find the planting them behind lady’s mantle does the trick of disguising them. This year I hope to add a pink and red form to my collection.

Primula denticulata Alba

Primula denticulata Cashmeriana

Signalling the beginning of summer Cowslips are everywhere, aren’t they! These fragrant yellow blooms lift the spirits on a dull day. As I mentioned above there is one flowering right now in my garden – it’s a pity it’s too windy and wet to enjoy it! I’m hoping these happily spread around the garden.

Primula veris

This next Primula takes a bit of getting used to – in fact, so much so I’m still not entirely convinced myself! I live in hope that it will one day, grow on me! It doesn’t do well in shade in my garden, although it is said to enjoy a bit of shade. It has flowered all summer and is only now showing signs of going over for winter.

Primula Francisca

You know we are moving into summer when the Candelabra Primula begin strutting their stuff! They come in a variety of colours. These Asiatic beauties do extremely well in my garden. The soil is reliable moist enough for them. Like all other Primula – slugs can be an issue!

The smallest for the Candelabra Primula growing in my garden – Primula aurantiaca has beautiful bronze almost black stems which produce these orange flowers. They are said to be slow to bulk up. Not too slowly I hope.

Primula aurantiaca

Sending up whorls of purple flowers in early summer Primula beesiana is also a suitable candidate for bog garden and stream edges.

Primula beesiana

It’s difficult not to get confused with the names – next on the list is Primula bulleesiana. Comes in a range of colours from pink to yellow. This one grows happily in a part shade situation in my garden.

Primula bulleesiana

You can just catch a glimpse in this image of Primula bulleyana. Where I hope they multiply and grow amongst the Astilbe Deutschland. These do and have coped with flooding. Bulley’s primrose is said to require a part shade to shade situation. They grow comfortably in full sun in my garden. Although the term ‘full sun in Scotland’ is debatable…lol!

Primula bulleyana

To my untrained eye, I can see little difference between P. bulleesiana and P. bulleyana.

Yet more Candelabra Primula – this time Primula japonica. I grow 2 varieties but there are others available. If you’ve got a shady damp spot in your garden – then these are your guys!

Delicately coloured pink with an orange eye. I’ve found that this plant has the stoutest sturdiest stems of all the Asiatic Primula.

Primula japonica Apple Blossom

Next on my list is the ever popular Japanese Primula – these can be difficult to source – they fly of the shelves in the nurseries in no time! The whorls of flowers come in differing shades of crimson. Some almost red and other the deepest of pink. Happy in a moist shady spot in my garden. This variety is the only one to have been awarded an AGM by the RHS.

Primula japonica Miller’s Crimson

Now if you are looking to grow a Primula for scent – you would not go wrong with the Tibetan Cowslip. The smell of cinnamon is good enough to want to eat! The yellow form of these have also been awarded an AGM. They grow tall – over 1m in height.

Primula japonica Miller’s Crimson

A selection of Asiatic Primula growing together in my Primula bed. They currently tower over a couple of slow growing acers but I’m in this for the long haul and with patience this bed should come into it’s own in a few years time.

Often referred to as the Orchid Primula, I have read that Primula vialii can be temperamental – although listed as a perennial they don’t often return for a second year. Apparently the secret is to plant deep, which I have done. I also give them a mulch with some ericaceous compost when they are dying back. Whether or not it helps I have no idea but they have returned to my garden for the past 3 years.
These beauties are native to China’s mountainous regions and flower later in the summer and can last right up to the first frosts.

Lastly, new to my garden winter 2012 a plant that I purchased under the name Cortusa matthioli but now I believe they are called Primula matthioli. Their leaves are unlike the other Primula. Seen here are the flowers on 2 separate plants. These are hardy pretty little woodlanders.

Primula matthioli

Now I am in no way a Primula expert but do know that if you can offer these plants the perfect spot in your garden you won’t be disappointed.

Primula is a complex and varied genus and my tiny collection is but a fraction of what is available. According to the RHS there are 400 species worldwide. There is plenty of information available on the RHS website but if you want to spend a few hours looking at some gorgeous photographic references then follow this link to

Primula World

I hope you have enjoyed my little collection as much as I have enjoyed putting it together and hope to add more to my collection as we go into 2014.

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Wow, Angie have some gorgeous plants !
Good luck with continuing the collection in 2014 :o)

16 Dec, 2013


Beautiful plants and photography. Thank you.

16 Dec, 2013


What a wonderful collection. Had no idea some of these existed. Thank you!

16 Dec, 2013


A very nice collection, Scottish. I think that your P. bulleesiana is actually wrongly named and that it should, correctly, be P. bulleyana ssp. beesiana.

16 Dec, 2013


Whoa! Miller's Crimson is a 'must have' for me Angie! I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog. I brought most of my primulas here with me from the old garden. I've planted most of them in the sunny border, so I hope they will be ok there. They will get shade from taller plants of course. I love the candelabras and the ones with the almost black foliage at the top of your blog. Really, I love all primulas except bedding polyanthas which I really don't like at all. I even like Francisca! lovely, thank you for to that link now! :)

16 Dec, 2013


What a fabulous collection, we do not do very well with some of these varieties, have lost numerous Vialii have given up with them, do much better with Millers Crimson, have put your lovely blog on my favourites, for future reference,??

17 Dec, 2013


they are amazing scottish. I really love this blog.

17 Dec, 2013


Brilliant blog and added to my favs for future ref, thankyou Scottish, I love them all and you have some real beauties here.......

17 Dec, 2013


Thank you all for your lovely comments. I'm pleased you all enjoyed.
I look forward to adding to my collection next year ;)

17 Dec, 2013


recording them in a blog as reference i would have to agree with you is a very good idea...i like doing this too :-) i have saved blogs as well for points of reference and i like putting my thoughts down in the blogs as i find that helps me in remembering :-) it will be great for you to see how your collection has grown...most rewarding.

great informative blog.

From Jane!

17 Dec, 2013


A fantastic collection Scottish..and a lovely much more interesting when you add the names..thank you :o) x

17 Dec, 2013


Thank you Jane and Bloomer x

18 Dec, 2013


A very interesting blog. I didn't think there were so many different kinds of Primulas. I hope you collect some more. I think I'll look for some as well. I'd like to have some candelabra ones next year.

18 Dec, 2013


Lovely blog Angie ... and to have such a varied selection is a credit to you ... fancy having a Cowslip in bloom now! ... :o)

18 Dec, 2013


Great blog, wish I could grow more of them this far south, have said it before your garden to me looks like an extension of Heaven.

20 Dec, 2013


WOWeeeee just seen this blog and i LUUUV it -Drrrrrooool drool drooled over all these- Have always said if i had to chose just one genus of plants it would be the Primula, thank you so much Scottish for all the incredible info too - liked and added to faves :)

2 Apr, 2014


You are welcome Beehappy :) I've a few more to add to this list - your comment has reminded me to update it.

3 Apr, 2014


Ooooo glad i commented now - You mean to tell me there's EVEN more beauties to drool over LOL!
I have only just started on my Primula collection very small at the mo but LOTS n lots to enjoy hunting for at plant sales on NGS open days I have put off purchasing as my garden is quite exposed both to wind and sun so i have been creating pockets of more primula friendly beds/borders still have LOADS to do before i can begin adding them to their final homes. eally looking forward to seeing the update Scottish to see some more of your lovely variety's and fall in love all over again and who knows maybe even get a chance of a lucky find at one of the events in 2014 :0)

3 Apr, 2014

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