Primrose and cyclamen in February

Now that winter’s here and there’s no signs of a thaw I’m kind of happy with things.  I like the combination of fresh snow and bright sunshine that comes with the longer days and even though it’s cold enough to freeze your fingers off I know spring will come.  The winter garden knows this too, and the cyclamen coum are now in full bloom.  Also blooming is the first of my forced primula divisions.

primula and cyclamen under growlights

Yellow primula opening under the growlights of my winter garden.  The cyclamen coum are also blooming full force, and I’m sure I need more!

I love the cyclamen, but since the primula are new this winter I suppose I’ll say a few things about them.  They were given to me a few years ago by a friend who referred to them as heirloom primroses, and they’ve been tough enough to take on the poor soil and drought of my less-than-perfect primula bed.  I think they’re primula polyantha and back in December I chopped through the frost and dug a clump up to force under the growlights.  Forcing is probably a too fancy term for what I did since it amounted to little more than potting the divisions up and putting them on a cold windowsill, but since they’re blooming way ahead of their outside sisters I’ll stick with the term.

I don’t think they’ll bloom as much or as long as the showier hybrids (they don’t produce any secondary blooms)  but I like the delicate little flowers they do have.  They remind me of the yellow primroses my mother grew way back which died off after a string of hot dry summers, so I’m glad to have something similar back again.  Some red ones and pink would be nice, and primroses could easily become an area to “dabble in” but I’m going to look the other way for now.  If you feel otherwise check out Amy’s blog at Primrose Hill Woodlanders and enjoy some great shade garden and primula pictures, and also you might want to visit the American Primrose Society’s website.  Great info and a fantastic seed exchange full of some of the best and newest varieties, and as of February 1st anyone can order!!…. I’ll be avoiding that one 😉

35 comments on “Primrose and cyclamen in February

  1. I am going to have to seriously consider having my seed starting operation do double duty. It is probably as cold down there as it is in your garage. You are having too much fun without me!

    • bittster says:

      The garage is just warm enough that only the windowsills and around the door risk freezing, and that’s only when it’s especially cold and windy. I was out there today doing some deadheading and salvaging a few overwintering geraniums and begonias. Playing with plants felt good as the snow came down and the next arctic blast rolls in. I’ve even been interested enough to remember to water things on a regular basis this winter…. Except for the asparagus ferns in the corner… They’re nearly dead and it will be a few more weeks yet before I give a darn about them!

  2. AnnetteM says:

    Lovely cyclamen. I love them too and keep planting them in the garden even though I know I will only get one year out of them. However I keep telling myself it is better value than buying flowers for the house. I have never worked out why they don’t ever flower again a second year.

    • Chloris says:

      Are you buying Cyclamen coum Annette? It is perfectly hardy and should come again and seed around too.

      • AnnetteM says:

        Yes that is what I have been buying. I have sometimes got them to flower a second year but more often than not they just disappear. Maybe something digs them up and eats them?

      • bittster says:

        Annette, are you familiar with Ian Young’s bulb log? I think he’s around Aberdeen as well and in his bulb log he also mentions having trouble with cyclamen coum surviving in the garden. I believe the only thing that worked for him was spreading seed in likely spots until a few finally took hold. I think it was on the edge of a gravel path or in a sand bed where things finally came together. They’re a plat worth giving second and third tries!

      • AnnetteM says:

        No I wasn’t familiar with that log but I did know about the Scottish Rock Garden Society. I am a member of the local botanic gardens group and they often hold joint meetings. I have just looked at that log – what an amazing amount of work and success with his seeds.

  3. Oh, I love all those cyclamen! And the primrose, too–my grandmother in Western NY had a huge clump of yellow ones as well, and sometimes they would bloom as early as late February, since they were in a spot that got direct afternoon sun exposure. But, oh, those cyclamen win my heart today!

    • bittster says:

      You really have to try both of them! I would have never even considered sharing the primrose last year, but now I have three little potfuls and I can surely part with one this spring. I’m sure there’s an extra cyclamen somewhere too!
      I’m planning to start more cyclamen seed next fall so I’ll have to make room anyway 🙂

      • Last spring I planted three pots of of perennial primroses up in the lasagna garden, so let me see what they do this spring. I’d love to take you up on the offer of a cyclamen, though! One day we will have to plan a get together for our seed and plant exchange! (Got a notice on Friday that my Fedco order is on its way!)

  4. Chloris says:

    I do like your garage garden. You have such a lovely range of colour in your Cyclamen Frank. I agree about primroses, they could easily become another obsession with me.

    • bittster says:

      I’ve been very lucky with the colors, just today I marked the ones which I’ll need to bring in again next fall. I’m making sure I save my favorites for inside since I really need to make some space and plant a few of the other ones outside.
      I spent a little too much time looking at primula seed today. I have a bad idea brewing.

  5. johnvic8 says:

    Those colors are outrageously beautiful. Wow!

  6. How wonderful to have your own spring garden under lights! I love my primroses and have a big green clump in the garden that has defied whatever winter has thrown at it. It will be a happy day when they bloom!

  7. Cathy says:

    I love primroses too, and although the hybrid ones are very pretty there is nothing quite like the wild ones seen growing in an English woodland!

    • bittster says:

      I’ve never seen them in an English woodland but any small wildflower scattered among the leaves and grass is a rewarding sight !
      If only I had a garden a little better suited for them :/

  8. I really like the wild primrose in Spring. I do like the hybrids too, they are such an old-fashioned flower. My cyclamen all but died while I was away. No water and the little guys just withered. Lucky they have strong roots and are popping up new leaves. BTW, they are ones I started rather than buying them. I would have hated to lose them.

  9. Amy Olmsted says:

    Your winter garden has grown so much! The Cyclamen are gorgeous! I need to bring some of mine in for the winter next year!
    Thanks also for the plug of my sorely neglected blog!

    • bittster says:

      Your blog is always a great place to visit, updated or not. Last time I browsed through I almost found myself trying to order some auricula primrose… not ready for that yet, but the pictures were so tempting!

  10. That is surely a spirit lifter, if one is needed in the coldest months. They look so very healthy!

    • bittster says:

      I can use all the bright spirit lifting I can get. Sunday is the first day where temperatures are forecast to go above freezing, until then I’ll have to head south for inspiration 🙂

  11. What a blessed relief from this bitter cold February, which seems to be making up for the first milder months of winter. I love the yellow primrose.

  12. Annette says:

    My garden certainly can’t compete with this display – just stunning, Frank. I love your cyclamen. Friends gave us a tray of supermarket cyclamen 2 years ago and just today I spotted one of them in flower which was a lovely surprise as I didn’t expect them to survive planted out in the garden. It’ll be a while though before they make the kind of carpet effect I’m dreaming of!

    • bittster says:

      Great that you have your own cyclamen coming along as well. I hope they start to seed out for you, mine haven’t had much success yet since all the plants are still ones I grew in pots myself.
      I just saw a few photos of cyclamen carpets this afternoon, for some people it’s not only a dream and my fingers are crossed we will both have our own carpets some day!

      • Annette says:

        Gardeners are hoping and dreaming a lot of the time…guess that’s what keeps us going and I’ve no doubt we’ll have our carpets some day!

  13. John Willis says:

    Frank, That’s a lovely collection of cyclamen. I’ve got several pots in the greenhouse that I started from seed and I’m looking forward to seeing them take up flowering like yours. Mostly they are variations in Cyclamen hederifolium, but the latest seedling to pop up is Cyclamen africanum. Outside there are a number of cyclamen clumps that have taken hold but you would have to get temperatures better than sub-freezing before we can see them do their thing.

    • bittster says:

      Congrats on the cyclamen africanum. I haven’t ventured beyond the easier species yet, but someday I hope to have a little more room to experiment.
      I hope your temperatures are showing some improvement. We are still stuck in the basement as far as weather goes, with no hope for a thaw until at least the second week of March….

  14. Another beautiful picture of your winter garden, Frank. I love primroses, and grow a few. They are a ‘must have’ cottage garden flower and remind me of my mother’s garden. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pam, I love primroses too, also from my mother’s garden. I only wish I still had the exact ones I remember… but maybe memory is starting to fail me now 😉
      I tried a few times leaving comments on your blog but my phone fights me all the way. I think the last one went through, but I just wanted to say I’ve been enjoying your winter posts!

  15. The rich colors, the contrasts, and the different textures make such a gorgeous garden.

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