Green Edged Show Auricula ROBERTO
Green Edged Show Auricula   Roberto
A Short History of
Florists' Auriculas

Florists' auriculas are descended from a hybrid between Primula Auricula and Primula Hirsuta, two species that grow in the European Alps.

Auriculas first appeared in European gardens around the mid-sixteenth century. The first known illustration of an auricula plant was that made for the manuscript of P. A. Michiel, for some years director of the botanic garden at Padua, Italy. A printed edition of this, I Cinque Libri di Planti, was published in 1940.

In England John Gerard knew a few varieties in 1597 and by 1629 Parkinson was describing a much greater number.

Exactly how the exotic edged, striped and double varieties came about is unknown. One of the earliest illustrations of a true edged flower is in the painting Portrait of Martha Rodes by C.Steele in 1750. This shows the aforementioned young lady posed next to a pot of a recognizable edged plant.

The auricula became a major craze and was grown by the rich and famous, as well as humbler folk, in great numbers and variety during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

With the development into a Florist Flower strict rules and standards were laid down, not without considerable acrimony as opinions differed amongst some of the leading personalities of the day like James Maddock and George Glenny.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century florists' flowers lost popularity and indeed some disappeared for ever. The auricula still had its adherents although stripes disappeared and doubles became exceedingly rare. Then a further blow was struck with the advent of the First World War.

Between the wars the auricula was kept in being by the auricula societies, especially the Northern Section, starting a recovery in 1945 that continues to this day. A large number of new varieties of both edged and self-coloured auriculas have been raised by the modern successors to the old florists. Striped auriculas have been re-introduced and more new doubles are exhibited each year.

References Florists Flowers and Societies by Ruth Duthie, Shire Garden History 1988,
card covers 95 pages, now out of print.
Auricula History Society Guide No.5 (published by the Midland & West Section),
David Tarver, softback, 52 pages , 2.30. Out-of Print.
Auricula Miscellany by David Tarver, 1999, softback, over 50 pages, 2.30 (UK Only).

For photographs of auriculas go to   Auricula Gallery        

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