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National Auricula & Primula Society
Northern Section
Founded 1873
N.A.P.S.
Northern Section
Founded 1873

THE AURICULA SCENE

Brian Coop


As we leave behind the celebrations of our 150th Anniversary, it seems an appropriate time to assess where the Auricula stands at present. Over the next few months it is planned to run through the different classes of Auricula and advise on what is available and worth growing for showing. We already have an overview of the 'Types of Auricula' on the website, so the classes are those seen in the Show schedule e.g., Green Edged Auricula, Gold Centred Alpine, Double or Striped.


Green Edged Show Auriculas

Green Edged Show Auriculas


Prosperine

Prosperine


The Green Edged Auricula must be regarded as the acme of the Florist's art because of the way they have turned the chance occurrence of virescence in the pip into the refined green edge. Some regard the Grey/White Edge as more beautiful, and we will look at them next month. Many find them difficult to grow to Show standard and, as the Stripes and Doubles of the 17th and 18th century have been resurrected, growers have moved towards them. Others prefer just to grow the Show Self but not the Show Edged although the Show multiple classes are supposed to be representative of the type as, despite appearances they are closely related.


This can be seen in breeding where, despite 200 years of crossing Green Edges with one another, each cross will still produce Selfs, sometimes up to 25%. Equally a quality Green Edged, if not well grown will manage 2 or 3 good pips but will then run out of energy and the later ones are deficient in edge, showing too much body colour, moving towards a Self.


The body colour of most modern Green Edges tends to be black, or deep red, but it can be red, as in Rajah, violet as in Helen Barter, pink as in Astrolat or yellow as in Salad or Spring Meadows, with many others varieties available commercially. The problem is that all of these have body colour that flashes to the edge and are therefore classed as Fancies, because they do not conform to the Standard. Although Edges of other body colours than black are accepted in the 'Open' classes nobody has, to date, succeeded in raising one to that standard.


In recent times the peak of popularity was probably reached 40-50 years ago when the varieties Chloe, Fleminghouse and Roberto became more widely available and were shown in quantity. Certainly, Chloe and Roberto are still around although Chloe is losing vigour.


For 20 years up to 2000 we largely had to depend on the Northern Secretary, David Hadfield for keeping the Green Edges going as he raised superb varieties like Prague, Jupiter, Figaro and latterly Sappho and Tamino. These varieties are still in existence and may appear in commercial lists. Sappho was the top Green Edged up to 5 years ago. More recently, Bob Taylor raised quite a few Green Edges including Gruner Veltliner and Moselle during the 80s and Clipper in the 2000s. These again should be available from nurseries although they have the same problems in bulking stocks up as the amateur grower and will soon sell out.


My own efforts started with Benny Green around 25 years ago and this is listed commercially. It has been a reliable winner on the Showbench during that time although it can be difficult to get with more than 5 pips and maybe now past its best. Septimus Green was bred from this and is better, a reliable grower with more pips and better quality. To my knowledge it is not available commercially, but a number have been made available through Northern plant sales.


The other main contender is 'Prosperine', raised by Ken Whorton over 20 years ago. It is a small plant of excellent form which has won many awards and seems to be gaining in popularity.


So the number of show standard Green Edged varieties available is limited. There are many others that have been raised and fallen by the wayside over the years that still remain in nursery lists but I would not recommend them for show purposes.

The Auricula Scene

The Auricula Scene

Brian Coop


As we leave behind the celebrations of our 150th Anniversary, it seems an appropriate time to assess where the Auricula stands at present. Over the next few months it is planned to run through the different classes of Auricula and advise on what is available and worth growing for showing. We already have an overview of the 'Types of Auricula' on the website, so the classes are those seen in the Show schedule e.g., Green Edged Auricula, Gold Centred Alpine, Double or Striped.


As we are a Florist's Society I will be looking at the varieties within these classes which meet the accepted Standards. I will include Border Auriculas which are judged for effect rather than to Standards. Gold Laced Polyanthus are also an important florist's flower within our Society although I will certainly have to seek advice on these.


I am aware that we have many new members within the Northern Society who wish to get started with exhibiting and are frustrated by the lack of quality material. The advice to new growers wishing to exhibit always used to be to look in the recent yearbooks to see which varieties have won on the Showbench. Yet within the last 10 years we have lost three specialist Auricula nurseries and the numbers of senior growers maintaining good collections has been thinned.


There are still a number of Nurseries that list large numbers of Auricula varieties to meet this increasing demand. Although top varieties may be listed there they are not quick to propagate and may be soon sold out. Otherwise there are many varieties that have been superseded, deteriorated through old age or which have never been successful on the showbench.


The main advice we can give is to get involved, go to the Shows, and have a go in the Beginner's classes. There is no harm in buying a general collection of Auriculas and showing them to the best of your ability. It is better to show an average variety in good form than a top variety poorly. This will be recognised by the established growers who will seek to encourage you and make the better varieties available.

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