April/May 2012
Abriachan Nurseries 2012 Auricula Offer - Online Catalogue Available
* * This offer is from 2012, we still get a lot of traffic to this post, so if you end up here looking for great prices on beautiful Auricula, do have a look at our online catalogue which has a great selection and offers throughout the year. 

For the greatest selection, come into the nursery and have a chat.

Old Fashioned Primroses

It is cold. After a wonderful sunny March as is often said “We have paid for it!!”
Cold nights, freezing dawns, cold days, five degrees….rain….lots of it…and snow on the tops, and sometimes even at our lower level.
You wake to a skim of snow that thaws over the morning.

It is the young birds that worry me. Birds nested early and enthusiastically in March. I hope they can keep those babies warm.

Plants just slow down. After a fast start, many spring plants seem almost to be suspended slowly opening their flowers and holding them close to retain a little warmth.

This year there has been markedly increased interest in the old fashioned primroses, one of our specialist groups of plants.
Primula Wanda

Primula Amy Smith

What are old fashioned primroses? Well they are cultivated primroses, often of some antiquity, all good garden plants and hardy.
Most are singles, some are wonderful old doubles and some are polyanthus form. 

This month, April, I am canvassing the villages around Loch Ness in my bid to be re-elected as the Local Highland Councillor, I am often looking over walls into gardens as I am going around.  I see lots of old primroses; they are the ones that have survived for generations, passed from mother to daughter, neighbour to neighbour.
I see Wanda, that great old magenta primroses, an old yellow polyanthus and recently a lovely pale mauve pink primrose, whose name no one seems to know.
Primula Lilacina Plena
Look across the range of primroses we sell, and you see some wonderful old varieties.
These plants do not have the zazzle colours, red, orange, yellow & pink that you can buy in supermarkets and garden centres, but they do have quiet subtle charm.

I have more than one favourite and the plants do look different from year to year.
This year, the pretty Amy Smith with soft pink flowers on dark bronze foliage and Lady Greer, which has dainty Polyanthus heads of biscuit yellow.
And of course then there are the doubles, how could I garden without the old alba plena and the glorious Quakers Bonnet, lilacina plena, but they really are another story and a wonderful one at that.

Plant of the month - Primula Auricula

Plant of the month - April
Primula Auricula

We have a wide collection of these extraordinary little plants.
Intense colours and subtle dustings of farina make them unique and exquisite.
Hardy, easy to grow and guaranteed to delight.
£4 - £6 each

If you too love Auricula and have some photographs squirreled away on your computer, consider adding them to our 'Auricula Addiction' group on Flickr.

Adventuring into the tangled web

Being a small plant nursery owner is rather unlikely to make you rich, even when you have Nessy on your side and many points running in your favour:
  1. Our nursery is a small operation - family owned and run (With the assistance of several knowledgeable, loyal and wonderful women) and we are located on a beautiful hillside in one of the most gorgeous areas of Scotland.  
  2. We choose our plants carefully, grow them in our own woodland garden to assess their hardiness, vigour, beauty, scent and suitability for Scottish gardeners, and only then sell them in our nursery.
    Buying from us, you know that the plants have been well grown from strong stock, well educated on Radio 4, and hardened off to cope with challenging Scottish temperatures.
  3. We grow and sell many rare and unusual varieties that can trickier to propagate and maintain, so are infrequently stocked by the big nurseries as they are not perceived to be worth the time and energy required.
  4. We also sell more exotic varieties influenced by our time in New Zealand and the Falkland Islands, varieties which may not have been considered by many gardeners until they see them growing this far North.

All these positive factors are in themselves, not always enough to rake in the millions, and whilst we have a strong and loyal base of customers - the convenience and illusory value of plants available in a wealth of supermarkets and hardware stores has impacted on many small nurseries. 

And so, several years ago we reached out to the Internet to expand our horticultural presence - our website has grown and improved and we have made tentative social media explorations through Flickr galleries, a Facebook page, a new Pinterest page (Still finding our feet) and of course this blog to expand our customer base and hopefully allow technological word-of-mouth to tempt more gardeners to Abriachan. 

Will the 'likes' and 'stars', 'shares' and 'comments' translate into more people in the nursery and more plants in the post? Maybe, maybe not, time will tell, yet no matter what, we have gained many new friends and been made to feel welcome as part of the online community.

As we have grown our own blog, I have discovered the wonderful world of gardening bloggers, who share their stories, their humour, their knowledge and their passion for gardening with the wider world.
Great sites like Blotanical (which hopefully will survive its current difficulties),  Garden Grab @ Fennel & Fern, Gardeners Voice and many others allow for easy exploration of a worldwide community of gardening blogs and it is rather too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of reading and following links from one blog to another.

We still send out our plant catalogue in the mail each year, as I believe you can never replace the tactile experience of reading through plant descriptions and choosing your selection by hand with a cat on your knee. 
Many of our customers have only ever ordered by mail, we have never met face to face, yet we often feel a friendship develop, with lovely handwritten notes included with their orders, and comments on how the plants are growing in their gardens.  They trust us to provide them with quality plants and when necessary to substitute a plant that we think they might enjoy if we are sold out of one that has been requested. 
We were wary that the Internet might not nurture the same personal relationships with our customers, and while it is true that orders from the website are less likely to include personal notes, we have been delighted at the warmth and encouragement we have received through comments on the blog and even more delightful, the personal visits from some other bloggers from around the country, who may never have discovered us had we not stepped deeper into the web-world.

So we shall venture onward, thank you for walking with us on this path.
The Davidsons
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