Meavy Garden Society Meetings
Meavy Garden Society AGM 2020 was held on Monday 17th February 2020
Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 17th February 2020
‘So Why Primula sieboldii?’ - Penny Jones
Our first speaker of the year was introduced as Penny Jones from Penny’s Primulas at Staddon Farm nursery near Holsworthy; her topic was “Why Primula Sieboldii”.
Penny’s nursery specialises in and has a National Collection of these beautiful plants which are native to East Asia, and in particular Japan, where they are known as Sakurasu. They are first mentioned in 1584 but did not become known in Europe until Phillip Franz von Siebold, who was a court physician from 1823 but in 1829 was forced to leave the country and smuggled out a number of these plants which were then given his name. They have beautiful flowers in many forms and colours and have been bred as a florist’s flower in Japan, in a similar way to Auriculas in Europe.
Even so they have been slow to catch on here. They look delicate but are thoroughly hardy and worthy garden plants especially for an edge of woodland type situation with moist soil, and sunshine and shade.
When Penny first showed Primula Sieboldii at Malvern in 2007 she sold only two plants. She persisted however creating a website and making contacts. In 2013 the BBC presented a five-minute slot in Gardener’s World, just before the Malvern show. As a result Penny subsequently sold all their stock, except for two plants.
Penny now has contact with the Japanese Sakuraso Society and has imported many Japanese varieties. There are also some varieties bred by her and Alan Bloom of Bressingham. In total she stocks 150 varieties in colour ranging from purple to white. Many have snowflake-shaped flowers, most open flat but some are cup-shaped or droop. A number are self-coloured but others have attractive markings. Some are doubles which are not valued in Japan but highly prized in Europe.
These primulas are easy to cultivate, they need a woodland-type soil; preferably with leaf mould and bark. They are not deep rooted and spread gently by rhizomes. Every couple of years they should be split, using the rhizomes rather than seed to propagate. If they are attacked by Vine Weevil, even small pieces of root will eventually regenerate. They are disease free and do well in pots but should be re-potted every other year.
This was a very varied and informative talk and the members were enthralled by the variety and beauty of the flowers illustrated. They responded by buying quite a quantity of the plants Penny had brought with her.