There’s something alluring to me about auricula primulas, the racing pigs of the plant world. 19th century Lancashire working men collected these little darlings to bond over, lavish care upon, and to compete with against each other for the grand prize of a copper kettle. Today’s society helps give us an impression of how things were, back then:
Judging was done by passing plants from hand to hand round the table with the decision reached by consensus. There also existed a good deal of personal animosity and gamesmanship, happily almost entirely absent today. The proceedings ended with a meal or feast together with, one suspects, much consumption of ale. – The Auricula and Primula Society
Almost entirely? I see!
Most pictures of auriculas portray them with straight, discreetly staked stems supporting a neat truss of identical flowers, in a variety of patterns, each petal preened for the show bench.
The rakish angle makes Primula auricula ‘Old Irish Scented’ appear wayward in comparison with the trussed up show darlings. Once we set aside any expectations of stiffness, its classic white eye gives a hint of order while the ruffled, wavy-edged, golden-yellow petals have undoubted charm. One flower (technically a pip) is swamping the others. [With a contest for Prime Minister imminent, if any UK readers spot a likeness to one of our politicians, let’s keep that to ourselves.]
Primula auricula ‘Old Irish Scented’ is another of the rotating treasures on display in the glasshouse at Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate.
I’m adding another variety that caught my eye below. It was labelled Auricula ‘Nonchalance’, although it only has a smidgen of the golden centre described by others. Still, it’s sweet, no matter what the name.