Feb 272017
 

Primula auricula, Peter Tothill, May 2015.
19810690.

I have to admit Raiklesses is not a common name I’d heard before. I was looking up the Dictionary of the Scots Language, like you do, and there it was.  Two references to its use in Scotland dating to the late 19thC citing  Clackmannanshire (Clc.) and Roxburghshire (Rxb.). Raikless, or reckless, is simply a corruption of auricula so not the most exciting reason for a common name.

Bear’s Ears, the translation of the old botanical latin name Auricula ursi, or garden auriculas as they are more commonly known come in all the colours of the rainbow, plus a few more on top of that. They are the result of 300+ years of selective plant breeding and are the horticultural equivalent of the fancy pigeon. With hundreds of named auricula cultivars it maybe better to describe the growers and breeders as reckless rather than the poor plant.

The Botanics has a long history of raikless cultivation, James Sutherland’s Hortus medicus Edinburgensis, or a catalogue of the plants in the Physical Garden at Edinburgh dating from 1683 lists on page 306.

Sanicula Alpina vel Auricula ursi variorum colorum, Bears-ears of divers[e] colours.

The publication predates Species Plantarum and the beginning of the binomial plant names so the names in Sutherland’s time were polynomial and a mouthful.

As I said we don’t grow many garden auriculas but we do grow the wild species Primula auricula L. and Primula hirsuta All. that are the original parents of the hybrids and led to the horticultural diversity found in all those raikless hybrids.

RBGE Living Collections Accession Factsheet
Accession Number:19810690
Scientific Name:Primula auricula L.
Family:Primulaceae
Genus:Primula
Epithet:auricula
Plant:19810690A
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19810690E
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19810690D
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19810690B
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19810690C
Location:/Living Collections/Inverleith/Q25
1981.1069O (2).JPG
 Location: 55.964083097,-3.204597568

 

RBGE Living Collections Accession Factsheet
Accession Number:19741424
Scientific Name:Primula hirsuta All.
Family:Primulaceae
Genus:Primula
Epithet:hirsuta
Collector:Evans, Alfred
Origin:Valais:Saas Fee
Plant:19741424E
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19741424D
Location:/Living Collections/Inverleith/Q03/18/D010
Plant:19741424C
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19741424A
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
Plant:19741424B
Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
SAM_2377.JPG
SAM_2379.JPG
SAM_2380.JPG
SAM_2381.JPG
SAM_2382.JPG
Apr 072016
 

Saxifraga x bhratangensis is a naturally occuring hybrid that is found in central Nepal. Despite only being described in 2013 it has been in cultivation here at Royal Botanic Garden Edinbugh since 1983.

The collections was made by our retired Alpine supervisor, Ron McBeath, who collected it in the Marsyangdi valley near the village of Brathang on the 14th of July 1982. Distrubingly perhaps for some before I was born.

The collection MCB 1377 has caused some confusion in Saxifraga community from the variation found in the seedlings that arose from that original batch and then persisted in cultivation over the past 30+ years.

Malcolm McGregor’s 2009 monograph on the 2000 species and cultivars of Saxifraga discussed the parentatge of MCB1377, believing to be a cross between the species Saxifraga poluniniana and Saxifraga cinerea, and then in 2013 after additional work in the field the hybrid name S. x bhratangensis was published in The Saxifraga Magazine.

The original plant is in the process of being propagated to give it a new lease of life and to return it to a stone trough as part of the renovation works on the old alpine house.

 

Saxifraga x bhratangensis 19832344*D

Saxifraga x bhratangensis
19832344*D

Saxifraga x bhratangensis 19832344*D.

Saxifraga x bhratangensis
19832344*D.

 

 

 

Jun 162015
 

Let your eye run the length of the alpine wall; an intricate mass of flower is your reward. Petrophytum hendersonii cascades down the south face of the limestone with catkin like racemes of flower. A native to NW USA where its dwarf mat like growth can be found clinging to cliffs and rock faces. The multitude of off white flowers have a slight scent and are ideal to detract from the hideous shades of the dwarf Phlox cultivars belching out lurid shades of red though the diverse range of planting within the limestone mulch.

Petrophytum hendersonii

Petrophytum hendersonii

Petrophytum hendersonii

Petrophytum hendersonii

Alpine wall mid June 2015

Alpine wall mid June 2015

Mar 042015
 

An apt name for a flower that bursts into colour at the start of the growing season. Iris ‘Vivacious Beginnings’ is one of several cultivars new to the alpine house this season. For the second week; seasonal plants of interest highlights the diversity of colour within the alpine house. The team working to cultivate these plants are producing a much admired display that is constantly replenished from the growing frames. One specimen deserving mention is Dionysia afghanica, looking literally like a perfect miniature pin cushion, covered with light mauve flowers. This plant requires substrate drainage and a cool root zone to succeed in cultivation. Here grown in a terracotta pot within a second, larger, pot. Native to North West Afghanistan where it grows through limestone and enjoys shade provided by the cliff faces from the intense sun.

Alpine display

Alpine display

Dionysia afghanica

Dionysia afghanica

Iris 'Vivacious Beginnings'

Iris ‘Vivacious Beginnings’