Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Favorite Plant in the Garden Is...

...A primrose. But not just any primrose. It's Primula auricula marginata 'Mauve Mist.'

Given the nasty beating my garden has taken from winter's big ugly stick (not to mention my neglect), it's been quite a while since I've had a plant in my garden worthy of being labeled my favorite. But with our recent stretch of dry, sunny, if not necessarily warm, days (it reaches 50 degrees by about 1 in the afternoon, and then immediately starts declining back into the 40s), I've been making good progress on tidying the garden beds one at a time. I finally made it into the area way back under the Douglas firs, where I have a number of shade-loving selections, and what should I spy when I get there but this...

Primula auricula marginata 'Mauve Mist' -- although I wouldn't call that color mauve

Quite unlike any supermarket or big box store primrose, it has the most wonderful whorls of jagged leaves that look like someone edged each one with pinking shears, and then dusted them with flour (an interesting look in early spring on a primrose leaf, not so pretty or welcome late in the summer when it's caused by powdery mildew). The proper name for the powder is farina (although why that is also a breakfast cereal I don't know).

It's hard to get the camera to capture the true light bluish-purple color of the flowers (below it looks Gentian blue, and it's not that either). Although it's called 'Mauve Mist' it's most definitely not the pinkish shade that I consider mauve. This spring is its first time flowering, as far as I can remember.

It's available online from Digging Dog Nursery here, which has this to say about it:

"Dawdling throughout the limestone-rich areas of France and Italy's Maritime and Cottian Alps, this unique evergreen Primula promotes low growing waxy rosettes defined by thick deep-toothed blue-green leaves dusted with an alluring silvery white powder. Large, cut-flower-worthy clusters of fragrant flat-faced lavender-colored flowers further enhance the lovely soft foliar shades. Cherished as one of the most attractive early spring Primulas for an alpine garden, rockery, trough or pot, easily grown 'Mauve Mist' develops from a reliable woody rootstock, fends off deer and rabbits, and relishes a brightly shaded, sharp draining abode."

I bought my two plants while on Whidbey Island about a year and a half ago, from Cultus Bay Nursery, a trip that you can read about here.

You can find a link to a listing on Dave's Garden here, which says it is evergreen, likes partial to full shade, moist but well-drained soil, all of which have been true of its spot in my garden where it's thriving amongst its companions Cyclamen coum, Primula veris, Hepatica, various Epimediums, ferns and Podophyllum pleianthum.

My second plant, placed further back in deeper, more unrelieved shade, is flowering a bit later than its sibling.

All of this one's buds are still tightly closed

Loree at the blog Danger Garden hosts the Favorite Plant in the Garden. Go to her blog here and read about her favorite this week, and don't forget to go back a few times to check out the comments, where other bloggers leave links to posts about their weekly favorite.