The author shows how easy primroses are to cultivate in this illustrated handbook. Native to Britain and Europe, the primrose has been cultivated for years, and is one of the first garden plants to bloom in the spring. From the original pale yellow flower has come a great number of modern hybrids, in a wide variety of colours. The book includes notes on soil composts, raising from seed, growing in pots, controlling pests and diseases, and a detailed primrose grower's calendar.
Everyone loves primroses, the harbingers of Spring, often poking up through the snow and filling the air with their sweet scent to greet the brave gardener who ventures out. From the dainty, simplistic beauty of Primula vulgaris, the common primrose, and Primula veris, the cowslip, through to the elegant, frosted charm of the auriculas, they have a universal appeal to children, adults, gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Here long-time grower of these charmers, Peter Ward, shares his experience of growing, showing and enjoying these petite plants. Accompanied by many colour photographs, this is an excellent guide to their cultivation requirements. From primulas, polyanthus and all the mixes inbetween - they are not faithful to their own variety by any means - their diversity is wide-ranging: singles, doubles, jack-in-the-greens, striped and bi-colours. Easily propagated by division and seed (but this can be unreliable due to their flighty nature) they are a gardener's dream with only the ubiquitous vine weevil posing a serious threat to their welfare. Auriculas, on the other hand, are more finicky. And rightly so. They have long been coveted and shown, incurring green thoughts as much as green fingers when new varieties appear. Often frosted with farina, a white coating, the flowers and leaves beg to be looked after with more care than their tougher relatives, the primroses. Their perfection, when grown well, is astounding and it is hardly surprising that once hooked by them, the compulsion to keep buying and searching for new varieties is unstoppable. Part of the RHS Wisley handbook series, this is a comprehensive and concise look at primroses and auriculas, fully illustrated and clearly written. Aimed at both the amateur and professional grower, this is an invaluable addition to any serious horticulturalist's bookshelf. - Lucy Watson
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