Apple Blossom. An old clone with distinctive leaves.
Marion. Pin eyed this always reminds me of a Dionysia.
Anna Griffith. Apparently this was a collected plant and has been a firm favourite for decades.
Jan. This is actually close to the colour of the true Crowsley but the flowers are a completely different shape.
Elizabeth Burrow. Usually the first one out – sometimes in mid December but usually in early January.
Marjorie Wooster. Given the name this was a bit of a disappointment. I read somewhere that Ken Wooster at the time was pursuing a line of trying to create larger flowers and while he succeeded this one suffers from reflexed petals.
Viscountess Byng. Another old clone and hard to keep. Had it and lost it.
Pinkie. Described as unique in flower colour and form, it has a reputation as being a bit of a beast to grow. I thought I had lost mine but it turned out I had a mislabelled cutting. Don't know how much longer it will be with me though.
Primula allionii 81193 - I assume this was one of Brian Burrow's seedlings as I got it from him. It may have been named now - if so if anyone has that name I'd be glad to know it.
Lacewing. Very distinct and slow growing. This is another one I lost.
Mary Berry. It's true that allionii seedlings usually take a few years to show their true nature. Certainly I've had a few plants which in their first year or so looked pretty miserable with small flowers only to prove themselves as absolute stunners. Apparently Mary Berry was given by one breeder to another – the originator unaware of the true merits of the plant.
Primula allionii in the greenhouse and then something of my own – I sowed seed from Mary Berry – all plants were inferior to the parent – this one might actually be a hybrid with something else, but I quite like it.
Eureka. A lovely pure white clone.
Austen. Slow growing clone.
Rosemary. I have pictures of this from the first couple of years which showed it as being unimpressive – since then it's got going and it is now one of my favourites.
Apple Blossom x Hartside No.12. A newer clone and more vigorous than Apple Blossom. It was very popular amongst exhibitors.
William Earle. A distinct ruffled purple flower.
Crystal. This one is unusual in that it when it first opens it is white and then it changes to a purplish shade.
Avalanche. This was introduced by Joe Elliott in the 70s. I remember him writing that it was pure white as opposed to Primula allionii alba, likening it to a soap powder ad where they compare clothes washed in Product X and whoever they were advertising (seemed a bit of an obsession back then). I visited his nursery and picked out a plant in bud – when it flowered it had a slight purple tinge and Joe bought it back from me. Since then I've bought the plant from different sources and it seems that some years it has that purplish tint. Generally to me it looks more ivory than pure white, something I find rather attractive.
Primula allionii is a classic alpine and alpine house plant. It was near the top of my list of desirable alpines when I was a teen after reading books by Royton Heath, Frank Barker and Anna Griffith.
It's been in and out of fashion a bit but presently there are many clones available and a good number of suppliers. There are a number of people breeding pure allionii to create new distinct forms. While many excellent new clones have appeared most of the old ones are still with us. The only one that seems to have disappeared is Crowsley Variety – I've seen a few plants labelled as such but they are nothing like the true plant.
One thing that still amazes me is how varied a plant that comes from a very restricted range and habitat varies. It still suprises me when I find that many of the more "extreme" forms were not bred in cultivation but were collected from the wild.
I've grown P.allionii in pots plunged in sand for about 30 years now - I tend to use pots rather than pans and I always find that they fill the entire pot and the roots then head out into the plunge. I had one greenhouse where they were mostly in the shade and I would water the pots perhaps only a few times in a season - but I would regularly water the plunge. For various reasons they were never repotted and what had happened is that they had rooted into the sand. They remained small but flowered well and I hardly had any losses.
Where I am now there is more sun and so I need to water the pots more. I get alot more losses.
On composts I'm a bit vague - usually a loam based compost with about 40-50% extra sand / grit.
I wanted to add that I find that while I usually keep the plants for several decades I do get the occasional collapse and sometimes if I've not been able to propagate the clone I lose the entire variety. I think that like many similar alpines, Dionysias, Androsaces etc they don't like the summer heat. I read on this forum that they shut down in hot weather and if you water they rot. I've tried not watering and that also leads to difficulties.
What I am starting to do is to try some "spares" in frames. They are alot wetter but so far they have got through the winter ok. I still need to get them through an entire season.
I add this because if you are somewhere where you have summers like ours (or hotter) you might find frame culture easier.
Click on images for a larger picture.
Kermis. Another white – this one tends to reflex the petals which although that is technically a fault still looks rather attractive.
Malcolm. A more mauve than others, lovely thing.
Flute. This is one of the few I've lost. It has the same sort of thick rhizome like stems as Viscountess Byng and a hard one to get cutting material from.