Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’

Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’  Family: Primulaceae
(PRIM-yu-luh  vul-GAIR-iss)
Syn. Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine

Common name: Belarina® Nectarine Primrose
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)  Spread: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)
Aspect: partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular  

Description: A low growing, clump-forming, evergreen perennial with bright green, wrinkled leaves. Fully double flowers open a deep yellow-orange colour and slowly transform through shades of apricot-pinky-orange to a gorgeous rose-orange as they mature. Bloom time begins in April and lasts through into June or July with regular dead-heading. Plant may go dormant in the high heat of summer if in full sun.


Special Notes: For clarity sake, Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’ is the patented name of this plant. Belarina® Nectarine is the registered trade name by which it is more commonly sold. It was bred by Cambridge, UK plant breeders, David and Priscilla Kerley, and introduced in 2014. Double-flowered primulas were once very popular in England a century or two ago but had become largely extinct. Through careful breeding, the Kerleys have bred a number of different cultivars in the Belarina® series for the gardener’s growing pleasure. (I have acquired a few in this series: Belarina® Pink Ice, Belarina® Valentine, and Belarina® Amethyst Ice.)


In our Zone 7a garden: Belarina® Nectarine was a new acquisition to our garden in 2017 and was planted in the front garden out of direct sunlight behind a Weigela spp. and shaded by the canopy of our large chestnut tree. A very stunning plant. Highly recommend this cultivar.


Posted on February 28, 2018




Viola odorata

Viola odorata flowers Viola odorata                    Family: Violaceae
(vi-OH-lah  oh-dor-AY-tah)
Common name: sweet violet; English violet; wood violet; garden violet
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 4-6 in (10-15 cm) Spread: 12-18 in (30-45 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade; full shade
Soil: sand; loam; clay; well-drained
Water: moderate
Description: Hardy, rhizomatous perennial with deep green, roughly heart-shaped leaves appearing in late winter. Fragrant flowers are either deep violet or white and appear in early spring. Disease and pest resistant. Propagation is from seed and spreading stolons, or rhizomatous roots.


Special Notes: Originally native to Asia and Europe, the early settlers carried specimens with them to Australia and North America where the specie has become established. The fragrant flowers are very important to the perfume industry in southern France where the flowers are also harvested for use in making flavourings, toiletries, and the violet-coloured liqueur called Parfait d’Amour.

The whole plant contains salicylic acid…the main ingredient in aspirin…which may be why the ancient Greeks wore garlands of flowers on their heads during festivals to thwart dizziness and headache brought on by imbibing too liberally. The leaves contain antiseptic compounds and have been used as poultices or added to ointments for centuries. Infusing them in a tea or making a syrup has long been a remedy for coughs.

The flowers have a mild laxative effect. Roots and seeds contain purgative properties. Herbalists have long recommended the use of a liniment made from violet roots and vinegar to cure spleen disorders and ease the pain caused by gout.

More recently, it has been discovered throat cancer patients who drink violet leaf infusions have realized relief from pain caused by their treatment. Reportedly, there have actually been several cures of this cancer by drinking leaf infusions.

The edible flowers can be added raw to salads, made into dainty crystallized candies for decorating cakes, made into a delicate violet jelly (recipe here), added to vinegar for colour, or fermented for a sweet wine.

An infusion of sweet violet flowers can also be used as a substitute for litmus paper to determine pH. When it comes into contact with alkaline substances, the colour of the infusion turns green. Acid substances will turn the infusion colour red.


Viola odorataIn our Zone 7a garden: I am particularly fond of sweet violets, Viola odorata, as their delicate scent reminds me of my granny. I originally placed three or four clumps around my front garden and over the ensuing years they have gently spread. Some are in the lawn, some in full shade, some in part shade, and a lovely patch has grown up in my Rosa rugosa hedge where it is slowly reaching out to the boulevard. This patch is growing is almost pure sand…with only the barest of soil to found. I never water out there and it receives the hottest sun of the day. For this reason it will languish in the summer months but not before I have picked its flowers for my varied uses.

For some gardeners, sweet violets are too invasive for their preferences. John will not have them in his garden for this reason. However, any wayward plants are very easily removed if the patch gets too rambunctious.


Note: None of the medicinal claims are meant to be followed without the express knowledge of your doctor or a certified herbalist. Please act responsibly in regards to your health.


Posted on April 18, 2017


Helleborus x nigersmithii ‘Walhelivor’

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' Helleborus x nigersmithii ‘Walhelivor’
(hel-LEB-ore-uss)                           Family: Ranunculaceae
syn. Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’
Common name: Christmas rose; lenten rose
Zone: 3 – 8
Height: 12-18 in (30-45 cm)  Spread: 12-18 in (30-45 cm)
Aspect: partial shade; full shade
Soil: fertile, humus-rich, well-draining
Water: moderate    
Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' - flower & budsDescription: An evergreen perennial with an upright, moderately bushy, clump-forming habit. Leaves are made up of three to seven oval-shaped leaflets. Leaflet margins are serrated. Foliage colour is grey-green with a muted silver veining. There are usually up to six stems on a mature plant, each one supporting twelve ivory-hued flowers, tinted with green and pink markings. Flowers can retain their shape for as long as two months. As cut flowers, the blooms only last about one week. They are not fragrant. Bloom period lasts from mid- to late winter through into mid-spring.


Special Notes: Hellebores are originally native to Europe and Asia, primarily China, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. Nowadays, they are a favourite of many gardens outside of those regions.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' buds‘Walhelivor’ was selected in 1995 David Tristam from amongst new seedlings being bred at his Walberton Nursery in Sussex County, England to exhibit vigorous growth, an upright form, and flowers which appeared slightly flattened. David Tristam applied for a patent through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 3, 2004. U.S. Plant Patent number 16199 was assigned on Jan.10, 2006 to Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’. It is marketed under the name ‘Ivory Prince’ for which it is better recognized.

Deer resistant. Relatively disease free, although leaves can be susceptible to hellebore leaf spot. Black Death is a new virus that has been infecting hellebores in private collections and nurseries. If your plant becomes infected with this virus…as evidenced by black streaking on flower petals, stems and leaves…carefully dig up the plant and immediately bag it for the garbage.

In our Zone 7a garden: The three ‘Ivory Princes’ growing in my garden were actually gifts to my mom from her long-time friend, my godmother. Unfortunately, the plants languished indoors in my parents’ solarium…having sold our childhood home and relocated to a condo with a beautiful ocean view, but no garden. So my garden became the rescue garden for which I am eternally grateful.

The ‘Ivory Princes’ have flourished nicely…albeit perhaps a little slowly. Now seven or eight years on, they have become a nice clump and exhibit all of the wonderful traits they have been bred for…foliage which survives the ravages of winter, upright form, and masses of flattened flowers which brighten the garden for at least two months. And right at a time when you need some serious “brightening”.


Caution: All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Great Plant Pick 2013


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