Modern Primroses & Polyanthus

The Primrose & Polyanthus in History

The Development of the Modern Polyanthus

The Barnhaven Polyanthus & Primroses

Growing from seed

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The heady sweet scent of hundreds of bunches standing in water overnight is a smell that will never be forgotten by anyone who has grown the Polyanthus for the cut flower trade. As a cut flower the Polyanthus has many attributes, but unfortunately it's main drawback is that it is cut in full flower and does not travel well and is therefore seldom seen in the Flower Markets. When I was at Horticultural College I carried out research work on the Polyanthus as a cut flower and some of the attached articles grew out of that work. It has been largely overlooked as a commercial flower, and has largely been grown by small growers supplying the needs of the local market. During the 1960's we grew a field of Polyanthus commercially in Anglesey and supplied many Florists along the North Wales Coast. The plants were all Barnhaven Polyanthus initially from seed supplied directly by Florence Bellis in Oregan. No sight can be more dramatic than a field of polyanthus in full flower.

The Polyanthus and Primrose are perhaps most thought of either as 'cheap and cheerful' pot plants readily available from the supermarkets in the Spring, or as a garden plants which welcome in the lengthening days of the year. Many strains have been developed for pot work, and have lost the hardiness of the original plants. Whilst there are various strains of hardy Primroses and Polyanthus available the Barnhaven strains surpass all others in respect of hardiness and clarity of colour.

Hardy Polyanthus and Primroses are easy to raise from seed, show very little tendency to being 'faddy' and with with regularity provide a splendid display of 'Spring colour'. Depending on ones style of gardening they can either be left to grow the year round in the same patch, or can be lifted after flowering, divided and lined out in the kitchen garden to grow on ready for planting out in the flower garden the following Autumn ....... and of course some can be left in the vegetable garden to provide a steady supply of cut flowers for the house. One of the disadvantages of leaving them in one place is that they will undoubtedly cross pollinate and the youngsters will probably have muddy coloured flowers .... despite the fact that we know full well we should cull them, it always seems such a heartless thing to do!

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