Please, Do Not Adjust Your Screen


These blue primulas (Primula acaulis ‘Blue Zebra’) are unreal. They are hallucinatory, a visual flashback from some bad trip I foolishly took in high school. No, they are like a prop in a cartoon remake of Alice in Wonderland. I wonder, when I turn my back, will they grow anthropomorphic limbs and dance?


They are also cold hardy (down to zone 4) and in the right conditions should rebloom in the fall along with another similar, albeit less dramatic impulse-buy primula that I planted out there last spring. And if I play my cards right (they need protection from the hot summer sun and moist soil that also drains well), they will come back, again and again, a reminder that sometimes nature isn’t always as “natural” as we expect it should be.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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18 thoughts on “Please, Do Not Adjust Your Screen

  1. Lust! Covet! Want! Can’t get enough of blue flowers. The darkest flower in the top photo seems eSPECially flouncy.

    • I think he’ll find that they sell well. They were selling like hotcakes when I saw them. Keeping in mind that they are an early spring plant so you have to get them in at just the right time. Less likely to sell off-season.

  2. What a coincidence – I just saw these when I was about 5 feet into a local garden show last weekend. Of course, I grabbed one right away! By the time I decided I wanted more, there were none left.
    I am really hoping this little beauty is happy with me and shows up again next year.

  3. What a beauty. I have a large collection of Primulas, I would love to add this one. Don’t believe what you read about zone recommendations. I grew Primulas in my garden When I lived in zone 2 in the BC Peace, the garden I have now is in zone 3.

    • I’m a strong advocate for breaking the rules RE: zone hardiness. They are guidelines and not rules. Microclimates within our gardens also play a strong role.

      I don’t go with just what’s suggested, but also with my own personal experience and by talking to others.

      In the case of primulas I find that they are hardier than they are said to be, but location is really key — and it’s the subtly of that, especially when it comes to the different primula types that I’m still coming to understand. I’ve had great success in my current garden as long as it is with species that don’t need constant moisture. I also place my primulas at the bottom of the downslope in my yard, where there is more moisture. However, I have friends with similar growing conditions (who are also great gardeners) who haven’t been able to keep primulas alive. I’ve also talked to people like you who are in much colder zones who are keeping theirs alive. I’ve been asking all of these people what it is that they are doing in order to paint a clearer picture. It seems that some protection and warmth in the winter (say next to a rock) helps, and so does making sure that they get sun protection in the hot summer months.

      I think you should give it a try. It’s very similar to another that I mentioned in this post that I find is very tough.

  4. They are very nice with their golden heart. Or golden star. Or golden sun in blue sky … I’ve never seen this primula’s. Amazing!

  5. I have some primulas now and I’m also in Toronto. Do you think it’s okay to plant them now, or do I have to wait until the frost date? I’ve been leaving them out all day in a tray and bringing them in at night.

    • Many of the primulas that I see for sale around now tend to come from greenhouses… they’re often kind of soft and you can tell that they’re not ready to be outside. I usually either harden them off myself or wait to plant them out after the frost free date to be safe. Then they’re fine and will be hardy in the future.

  6. I can’t wait to grow this plant. I’ve been seeing it displayed at trade shows for like the past year and a half. At last year’s IGC Hort Couture even had decorative rings they were handing out as promotion for the plant.

    You got some really nice pictures of the blooms!

  7. I LOVE that blue! I’ve got the perfect place to plant a few that gets good morning sun, but is shady during the peak afternoon hours.

  8. SO pretty! I’m concentrating on a veggie garden this year (my first garden ever!) and if all goes well, I’ll plan on trying to find these next year for a flower garden :)

  9. I saw this Primula on Pinterest and immediately pinned it to my plant wish list! Even better you may get a rebloom in the Fall! I’m envious. I hope to start a collection of Primulas along a rocky path I have in my Woodland Edge bed. This is one I have to have.

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