Primula Dell

About the Primula Dell

The genus Primula initially dominated but over the years other herbaceous and woodland perennials have been added. More are added each year, so the composition of the flower beds and borders changes from year to year. A programme is underway to increase the number of species of Primula in the Dell.

Over the years, the original design of flower beds and borders has changed. More island beds have been introduced. Their gently curving and irregular outlines provide a relaxed, casual and more informal appearance to the Dell (Dell- a tree-lined hollow). Further, the pond the Dell has been much improved over the years is now most attractive during the summer. Funding for the pond development has been kindly provided by the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local Union 488.

The overwhelming majority of species within the Primula Dell are herbaceous perennials. Originally, and like the English-style herbaceous perennial beds and borders, plants were allowed to grow until they touched ("The Melded Effect"). This style was retained in the Dell for many years. Today, the species are not planted so they will meld. this is done so you have an easier view of the individual species, and their characteristics. Also, it aids in the control of the weeds. The beds and borders can then be kept as weed-free as possible all season.

 As with other areas of the Garden, the Primula Dell changes through the summer, and from year to year. New introductions are planted each year to ensure that the variety of plants increases each year. This forms a component of the ongoing research at the Garden, which centers around the introduction of plants new to our region. We can also evaluate their hardiness, and desirability as garden plants. So today, the Dell offers a diverse array of perennials, most of which will be hardy in your own garden.

Many of the Primulas flower quite early, while others flower later in the summer. Species of Primula can be found flowering throughout the growing season. The genus is large and fascinating. The vast majority are native to the Himalayas and Western China. Primulas can be found growing in the Iris Dell and the Alpine Garden. The Dell warrants several visits during the summer to appreciate all the different species.

Other Spring Flowers

Among other spring flowers are Jefferson dubia, and species of Cypripedium, Pulmonaria, and Trillium.

In mid to late summer, species of yellow-flowered Ligularia can be seen flowering. These are big, bold, yet beautifully imposing plants that provide height at the back of a border or middle of a bed. These plants originate from central Eurasia and can be grown for both their flowers and foliage. Some species require considerable space in which to develop fully.

For most gardens, Ligularia stenocephala (Narrow Spiked Ligularia), a native of northern China and Japan is the best species to grow. The cultivar "The Rocket" has 45 to 60 cm long, upright racemes of small lemon-yellow flowers and does well in a rich moist soil.

Among other herbaceous perennials of the Primula Dell, and perhaps some of the easiest plants to grow are species of Lychnis. The most commonly seen species is the Maltese Cross or Lychnis chalcedonica, whose flowers are scarlet, each shaped like a Maltese cross. The cultivar "rosea" has delicate pink flowers.

Other plants of the Primula Dell include species and cultivars of Delphiniums. Unfortunately, the tall growing ones are very susceptible to being dashed about by wind and rain. However, they are very attractive plants.

There are also some Hostas or Plantain Lilies in the Dell. These are the Kings of the shade. They are superb shade plants, providing the soil remains moist. Here they fall prey to the local deer population. Deer apparently find these plants very tasty.

Other plants found in the Dell include daylilies, hardy geranium species, some Clematis species, a few Peonies, species of Gentian, just to name a few.