Starting from a collection of six double primroses bought because I wanted to get ‘Dawn Ansell’, the collection has grown. Spurred on by some success at the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Show, I decided to buy more only to find that the range available commercially is very limited. The difficulty of finding them only made me more determined and I now have around 80-90 varieties. Sadly the historic varieties are largely lost (if anyone has any not in my collection I would be delighted to hear from them). I would dearly like to get Prince Silverwings, Tyrian Purple, Arthur de Moulin, all of which seem to have been available relatively recently. The picture here is of ‘Prince Silverwings’ painted by Barbara Shaw and from her lovely book The Book of Primroses.
There are other doubles I am keen to find. Even quite recently introduced varieties have disappeared from sight. Hopleys introduced a wide range of double in the late 1970s and 1980, but I have been unable to find any of them. One, Torchlight, was even given an RHS Award of Garden Merit, but nonetheless seems to have gone. However as my collection has grown I have been forced to consider why I am collecting. I feel the aims of the collection are: a) to conserve varieties that might be lost from cultivation, b) to compare varieties to known descriptions and attempt to clarify naming, c) to compare characteristics, i.e. to discover which varieties are best for cultivation in the open ground.
Do please get in touch if you have a double primrose you think I might be interested in.