Monday, November 02, 2009

Primroses, Small Faces, Big Smiles

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday night here on the mountain. 30 degrees out and the temperature is dropping as the full moon is rising. It's been a great day although off and on windy. Rain will be returning in the next 24 hours but for now it's a fairly typical November evening. Tonight's news spoke of snowflakes and indicated that November's average snowfall is around 5". That doesn't seem quite right as deer season in Vermont is the last couple weeks in November including Thanksgiving and it seems to me that in my younger days I remember hunting in deep snow many times. I'll have to check the statistics.

Although color in the gardens is left now to the blankets of fallen tree leaves, gardeners still seem to end up with plants that have to get into the ground. There are other chores which need to be finished as well. Halloween eve our friend Harold called to see how things were going and he said he had been forced out of the garden by heavy rain and the approach of kids trick or treating at the house. He said he still had 800 daffodils to plant. Same kind of thing around here. In our case the to-do list includes the pot of primroses up top....Primrose 'Sunset Shades'.

Vermont has an interesting group named the Hardy Plant Club and last week was the annual potluck supper and plant, bulb, seed, book, you-name-it-hort related exchange. I wasn't feeling all that well but Gail and Diana went and Gail returned with the pot of 'Sunset Shades'. We have enjoyed primroses for some time and it's one of the few plants we like where we have not joined the national or international society. In this case the American Primrose Society really does a good job and continues to produce more events and more information on what we feel is an underused plant.

Years back someone in a trading mood brought some of the small common varieties you see in lots of stores and then a lady from Maine brought me some red Japanese Primroses--the tall 4-5 tiered candelabra types to go with 4-6 colors someone else had already donated. Then Gail's friend Elizabeth gave her some lavender drumstick types and the list and our interest grew.

We have some planted out front and the Japanese favorites are naturalizing well in the lower hosta garden at the house. I'm personally embarrassed to have anyone enter that garden anymore as I haven't worked there for two years now and it's out of control. Just the same, when the primroses are in bloom, there's no trouble finding them.

One of the things I like is they transplant well and each spring I pop a few dozen plants out of the ground and sell them as "color unknown". We never have any trouble selling them. This spring I will move a hundred or so into the new shade garden perimeter and in a couple more years they will give nice compliment to the blue, pink and white swaths of forget-me-not flowers.

In the meantime, give primroses a thought and try to find a place for them in your garden. They don't need very good soil to do well and like it more dry than even damp. Wherever they naturalize, you'll be pleased and in a couple years your friends and neighbors will beg for "just a shovelful please". That's fine, you won't miss them, and smiles and thanks yous are worth it.

Thinking and writing about primroses from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the temperature ticked a degree colder as the World Series warms up.

Good gardening wishes,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener


Syble said...

I've never grown primroses though I've often thought about it and now after seeing your pictures I'm going to give them a try. I have several places in the garden that they would work very well.

In my younger days, here in Kentucky, we would have snow before Thanksgiving. I remember the men of the family going hunting and often there would be several inches of snow.

AmyO said...

Thank-you so much for this! I'll forward it on to other primrose enthusiasts who I know will love your blog.
Have a good weekend George