Adorable Auriculas

Despite the recent cold weather and late spring, in the greenhouse my very small collection of auriculas is starting to come into flower, which does at least make it feel like spring! Auriculas are a type of primula and they come in a wide range of flower colours.

They are classified into three main groups; Alpine, show and border auricula. Although they are hardy, the show and Alpine types do not like to be wet, so are usually grown in cold frames or a cold greenhouse with plenty of ventilation. Border auriculas are generally more robust and will withstand being planted in the garden and as long as the soil is well-drained they will thrive. They all however grow well in pots and that’s how I grow mine. Through the winter the plants do not need any heat and mine were kept outside in a cold frame until a few weeks ago when they were brought into the greenhouse. The foliage is evergreen and in early spring the plants may need a tidy up to remove any dead or yellowing leaves. Spring is also a good time to carry out any re-potting and for decorative effect I like to see them potted in clay pots. Flowers start to appear from late March depending on the temperature and continue until late May, again depending on the weather. After flowering, remove the old flower stems, and keep the plants well watered and fed through the summer until autumn when they can go back into the frame or cold greenhouse. In North Yorkshire we are fortunate to have Drointon Nurseries at Norton Conyers, near Ripon who are one of the leading auricula nurseries in the country with a collection of over 800 cultivars. On Wednesday 17th April they will be holding an open day from 10am – 4.00pm where you can learn about auriculas. For more details visit – www.auricula-plants.co.uk. Alternatively, you can see Drointon Nurseries at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show (25-28 April) where they will be displaying a range of plants.

Jobs for the Week

The grass is at last starting to grow and will benefit from a light rake to lift the grass, followed by a trim.

Early potatoes can be planted now the sol is starting to warm up. Plant the tubers approximately 15cm deep, 40cm apart in the row.

Mulch around the new growth of raspberries with well rotted manure of garden compost.

Readers Questions

Linda from Harrogate has just bought a small greenhouse and wants to know what vegetables she can start off now to plant in her vegetable garden when the weather warms up.

First of all congratulations on buying a greenhouse, which I’m sure will give you many years of pleasure! A greenhouse allows you to grow a much wider range of plants through the year and if you can provide just a little heat in early spring you can really get an early start with crops such as tomatoes and peppers. At this time of the year you can sow many types of vegetables in plug trays for the garden, such as lettuce, cabbages, leeks and onions. I also start all my tender vegetables off in the greenhouse. By sowing now in cell trays or small pots you will produce strong plants ready for planting out when the danger of frost passes at the end or May or early June. Vegetables such as sweet corn, courgettes and butternut squashes need a long growing season and by giving them a head start in the greenhouse you should get a much better crop.

If you have gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at martin@flowershow.org.uk and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Car dale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question.