After the slightly negative tone of yesterday’s post, something more positive.
Say hello to primula ‘Ooh La La’, a hybrid, raised in Japan, combining two very different primulas. One parent is P. sinensis, a tender species that was very popular as a houseplant or for decorating conservatories and greenhouses in Victorian times. The other parent is P. filchnerae, a very rare primula from Hubei Province in China. It was first discovered in 1904 by Willhelm Filchner (1877-1957), a German explorer who travelled through China and took part in expeditions to Antarctica and was decorated by Adolf Hitler with the German National Prize for Art and Science for his achievements. After the discovery of the plant it was not found in the wild again and even the herbarium specimen (holotype) was destroyed in the bombing of the Berlin Herbarium during the Second World War. But a two small populations were discovered in 2006 and it is now known in the wild again and is in cultivation. It is grown in Japan for the relatively large flowers (2.5cm) and decorative, divided leaves.
Combining the two plants has led to two cultivars so far, called ‘Ooh La La’ and the one shown here is ‘Pastel Pink’.
I was thrilled to see plants for sale at the ‘Antrim show’ at the weekend and I used it as a prop in some of my talks. I was going to buy a plant but apparently my enthusiasm for the plant was such that they sold like hot cakes and I was given my prop plant.
It is supposed to grow to about 40cm high and should flower from spring through to autumn. It looks a little like a delicate P. obconica but the leaves, which are hairy and slightly flushed with purple underneath, are prettily lobed and look a little like a tiarella. It will almost certainly be sterile so deadheading will only be necessary to tidy the plant but the oddly angular calyces are attractive too. The flowers have a faint scent – not sure if it is lovely or not! It prefers a gently shaded spot and cool growing conditions so will be perfect for the average summer and it gives us a new patio plant for shade. I would love to try it with blue hostas in the border. My plant is still young but mature plants are said to have up to 100 flower stems.
It is said to be reasonably hardy and it should be perennial but we will see. Even if it only lasts one season I would be satisfied.
Plants are available by mail order in the UK and should be in garden centres too.