Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 17 March 2014

100 Flowers : #017 Victorian Polyanthus

Probably my favourite  . . .

#017 Primula x Polyantha hybrids


I have memories of the tall stemmed Polyanthus, in wonderful rich shades like a Persian carpet, that carpeted an area of my Gran's garden. The same plants had been split up and planted in my parents garden too.

They weren't the short stemmed, bright bedding Polyanthus you see for sale in pots or planted on pathside municipal bedding, they were beautifully scented and had subtle silky petals.

The only clue I had was that my Gran may have been sent her Polyanthus seeds from America, then I discovered Barnhaven Primroses, these were probably from the same varieties! I bought lots of packets of seeds and the little plantlets were planted along the back of our garden wall – my plan was to move the best colours to borders seen from the house.

This was just before the drought years – remember them?! – the plants I moved didn't survive. But those I left behind the wall have thrived!

Others I planted in a bed shaded by a Blackberry Briar at the end of the vegetable garden, these get more sun and so the flower stalks are shorter.

But among these are some lovely blue shades.

And together they make a pretty carpet of colour.

The plants are getting congested, with many seedlings jostling for space. I really should dig them out and move them back to behind the wall where they were obviously very happy. I should have realise that . . . these are hybrids between wild species of Primroses, Cowslips and Oxlips and where do these grow tallest and best . . . in shady woodland and damp grassy banks shaded by hedges.

They make lovely cut flowers, just a few stems making a beautiful posy.

Writing the #100Flowers blog posts is dangerous! I have revisited the Barnhaven web page, I now feel a need to grow some more different colours!




  1. They are so beautiful, I think I am going to have to purchase some of the seeds now!

    1. I've just bought some Spice Shades Polyanthus and Show Auricula seeds :-)

  2. Yes, those are the ones I remember!My mother also had some pale yellow ones.Not primoses (though most people called them that!) and they flowered amongst her cream freesias. They made wonderful "sand saucers" for the junior section at the Flower Show.

    1. The scent alone can transport me back to childhood.

  3. Celia, these polyanthus flowers are so pretty! Thank you for answering my question before I'd asked it...they are related to cowslips and primroses. Your garden must be looking so wonderful with all these early Springtime visitors showing up in their best outfits.

    I also loved seeing your photos and reporting of the early morning hare watch. Aren't those long ears and fast moving legs marvelous!

    Our St Patrick's Day snow forecast turned out to be overstated, but the day was really cold. I elected not to watch the parade this year. xo

    1. There are rumours of sleet for us at the weekend, so we mustn't be complacent about the beautiful weather - but it is glorious!

  4. My mom used to have lots of different kind of primroses. Now my mom has been gone for a long time, but primroses are still here. Flowers remind me of many people who aren't here anymore. Best and pretties memories what you can ask for. :)

  5. Exactly - I love the seasonal visits of memories.

  6. Such a beautiful blanket of colour and yes I can just imagine how dangerous this is going to turn out to be. I know for me it would have to involve many a purchase! xoxo

  7. I love the old fashioned polyanthus, the jewel-like colours are so beautiful; they obviously love growing by your wall. Great photos.

  8. I think this is the prettiest collection of primulas I've seen for a long time. You may drive me back to the Barnhaven site.

  9. What delightful images Celia. I had bought a couple of pots recently to keep on my cool, landing, windowsill. I couldn't work out why that area smelled so sweetly after the sun had been shining but I know now, it was such a good surprise.

  10. They are so pretty Celia.Our local shops sell some very like them in the spring. Maybe from the American type seeds that your Grandmother had. I will definitely buy some as soon as I can, and I will try planting them out in the garden once I can get a trowel in :)



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