There is only way to follow a post about Primulas and that is with a post on its inevitable garden centre cohort, Cyclamen.
The most I will say about the garden centre variety is that it should also be used as an accent plant and NOT a filler plant and do not plant it next to a Primula. They are quite ugly next to each other actually as neither their foliage nor their leaves complement one another.
Rather than dwelling on the useless garden centre varieties, I would really like to tell you instead about the Sundance Kid’s hardy cousin, Cyclamen coum. Unlike their gaudy relatives found in the garden centres, Cyclamen coum are perennial. They are beautiful and delicate winter charmers that don’t rot away or shrivel up the way their cousins do. I have them growing under a Japanese maple in the shade but I have also seen them growing in a full sun, rocky-face position at the front of a church in Cork (St. Thaddeus of the Seven Gables I think but I will let you know for sure when I see them again).
I have heard of them thriving in dry shade or that VERY difficult place to grow things: under mature pine trees. Plant them in drifts for the most effect and then complement your drifts with dots – dotting them here and there as if the wind had just blown them romantically all over the garden.
They are fantastic because they are delicate, tough, perennial AND of course, bloom in February – March, occasionally shining through again in October. The naturalized native, Cyclamen hederifolium, is great in the woodland garden as well, blooming from August-November
Hellebores, Corydalis (good plant for the garden nerd by the way) and Anemone blanda are great companion plants.
By the book they prefer: part-shade, well drained soil but unfussy about aspect or soil type
Read more at: RHS Plant Selector Cyclamen coum AGM / RHS Gardening.
Where to find them in Ireland: Mount Venus, Dublin
Photo Courtesy of Bob Osborn, Yeovil, UK