The Plant Lover's Guide to Primulas by Jodie MitchellThe Plant Lover's Guide to Primulas by Jodie Mitchell

The Plant Lover's Guide to Primulas

byJodie Mitchell, Lynne Lawson

Paper over Board | April 20, 2016

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Primulas are available in a huge variety of colors—from subtle pales to shocking oranges—and shapes—from small varieties perfect for borders to long-stem candelabras. The Plant Lover’s Guide to Primulas, by nursery owners Jodie Mitchell and Lynne Lawson, offers insight into the 100 best varieties of garden primulas. Featuring information on growth, care, and design, along with suggested companion plants and hundreds of gorgeous color photographs, it covers everything a home gardener needs to introduce these delightful plants into their garden.
Along with her mother, Jodie Mitchell operates world-famous Barnhaven Primroses, now located in northwestern France. Holder of a National Plant Collection for Barnhaven strains and a certified collection of Primula auricula cultivars, the nursery continues the 80-year-old tradition of hand pollination begun by Florence Bellis in the Un...
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Title:The Plant Lover's Guide to PrimulasFormat:Paper over BoardDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 8 × 0.75 inPublished:April 20, 2016Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604696451

ISBN - 13:9781604696455

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Introduction: The Barnhaven Story—Something of a Fairy Tale In the Great Depression of the 1930s in Oregon, a young concert pianist called Florence Bellis was out of work, ill, and destitute. She found refuge, with her two pianos and husband, in an old barn, without running water or electricity but surrounded by a wonderful creek area and an old apple orchard with good, rich soil. It was a haven for Florence—hence the name Barnhaven. As well as the pianos, she had brought with her some trays of seedling primroses. In a friend’s English catalogue, she had seen some pictures of primroses and had fallen in love with them. With her last five dollars, as the story goes, she had ordered several packets of Suttons polyanthus seed from England. At the time she had never read a garden book, never even grown a plant, but she did have a “naïve, absolute confidence” and went on to embark on a hybridizing programme that transformed the primula world and made horticultural history. At that time there was a very limited colour range in polyanthus. Florence’s first list in 1939 offered just scarlet, crimson, orange, yellow, and white (and she forgot to include the prices). She was an instinctive plant breeder, obsessed by colour, and she went on to introduce the first true blues and pinks, which caused a sensation, and literally hundreds of other identifiable colour shades. She concentrated too on fragrance and form and described Barnhaven’s hallmark as “a triad of colour, lilting grace, with overtones of fragrance.”  She was the first to hand-pollinate primroses commercially, and that practice is continued at Barnhaven today. She had no idea how to do it, so simply started by taking the flowers apart and applying pollen directly to the stigmas, no brushes, sterilizing, bagging involved. She worked extensively on anomalous primroses, auriculas, Gold-laced polyanthus, julianas, and her famous double primroses. Florence grew upward of 200,000 plants per year, not in tiny plugs in tunnels as we see today, but planted out in the open, and her customers, who came from far and wide, chose their plants by putting sticks next to specimens they wanted in the orchard. Florence went on to form the American Primrose Society in 1947 and was a prolific contributor to many journals and newspapers. When the time came to retire in 1966 she refused to sell her valuable seed strains to the large seed houses and instead chose to send a sample of all of them to the Sinclairs, customers of hers, in the Lake District in northwestern England with the message “yours to keep or kill.” Fortunately for all of us, the Sinclairs decided to “keep” and thus the Barnhaven story continued in England for another 20 years or more. Florence’s work not only was continued but also was extensively enhanced and improved. The Sinclairs added another 11 new strains and worked tirelessly on Primula sieboldii and double primroses. In 1990 Barnhaven moved to France under the care of Angela Bradford. Again, seed samples were passed on, and against all odds the work was continued until 2000 when David and Lynne Lawson took up the mantle, somewhat with trepidation because of the responsibility of continuing such a legend. The future of Barnhaven is in safe hands as their daughter and family have joined the ranks and have brought new life, energy, and ideas, and most of all, the necessary passion and dedication to continue this painstaking work.

Editorial Reviews

“If you wanted a good general book on primulas, look no further. This is the one to buy!” —Primula World