Auriculas - a most beguiling plant now on sale at Kew Gardens

Stunning auriculas bred by Chelsea Gold medal award winners William, Joan and Simon Lockyer will be sold in the Victoria Plaza garden shop at Kew Gardens from Friday 3 May 2013. Visit soon as stock is limited.

02 May 2013

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Photo of a primula auricula 'Dilly Dilly' raised by Keith Leeming

Primula auricula 'Dilly Dilly' raised by Keith Leeming

Once a pastime of the elite in Elizabethan England, the growing and collecting of auriculas now extends to all corners of society. The passion for this stunning plant spread amongst horticulturalists during the 18th and 19th centuries, eventually resulting in the creation of the National Auricula Society in 1872, and enjoyed a long Victorian heyday.

A brief history

This characterful primula is thought to have arrived in the East End more than three centuries ago and its cultivation became a tradition among the weavers of Spitalfields.

Traditionally auriculas are shown off in a Victorian-style theatre: a black backdrop dressed with exquisite jewel-like show plants, set in traditional terracotta pots – a most romantic partnership! The colourful varieties we find so hard to resist descend from a hybrid between two European alpine primulas, the yellow Primula auricula and the purple and white Primula hirsuta. Beginners are encouraged to join in the fun as there are many easy ways to cultivate varieties that can be grown in pots, alpine troughs or even outside in the garden, where they will need a well drained, semi-shaded position.

A Chelsea Gold medal winner

William, Joan and Simon Lockyer have been growing, breeding and showing auriculas for more than 20 years, playing a vital part in the continued popularity of these show-stoppers. Their dedication was rewarded with a coveted Gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, where the Kew Enterprises team met the Lockyers and agreed that a collaboration with Kew would offer a perfect match!

Available from the shop at Kew Gardens

These special auriculas will be sold in the Victoria Plaza garden shop from Friday 3 May 2013. Visit soon to avoid disappointment. Our stock is limited and not available online.

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1 comment on 'Auriculas - a most beguiling plant now on sale at Kew Gardens'

Lesley Roberts says

07/05/2013 12:56:47 PM | Report abuse

Good to see our plants getting around. The auricula illustrated is in fact 'Dilly Dilly' bred by Keith Leeming of Cheadle, Manchester, a member of the Northern section of the National Auricula and Primula Society. It was photographed in the auricula theatre at Pop's Plants in Wiltshire.

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