Gardeners are clearly spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out a set of plants – and never is this truer than for the greenhouse grower.
These controlled environments give the individual an unparalleled degree of control over the kind of conditions plants are subject to – and this has many advantages.
For instance, it is possible to grow certain species out of season – and this is very useful for fruit and vegetable growers in particular.
So it can be a very good idea to make the most of this gardening area by using it for plants that absolutely need such an environment.
Primula auricula – more commonly referred to simply as auriculas or mountain cowslip – are a good example of such a flower. They are usually kept in a cold greenhouse throughout the winter and spring seasons.
This gives them an indispensable degree of protection over the harsh wet conditions that they would otherwise struggle to endure. It can also make plant maintenance a considerably more comfortable pastime for the gardener!
Native to the mountain ranges of central Europe, they are naturally occurring in areas like the western Alps, the Black Forest, the Jura mountains, the Tatra Mountains and the Vosges.
Professional gardener and author of Keeping a Few Hens in Your Garden Francine Raymond noted that auriculas have captivated avid growers for a very long time now.
In an article for UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph she suggested this could be related to the appeal of their silky texture, generally delicate nature and jewel-like palette.
She offered some growing tips of her own, advising gardeners to cover the surface of the compost for the plant with a fine layer of grit so as to discourage vine weevils.
February was singled out as the best time to start growing from seed, or at least a great opportunity to take offsets if the plants have already started flowering.
"Sacheverell Sitwell described ariculas' perfection as 'that of the most exquisite Meissen porcelain or of the most lovely silk stuffs of Isfahan'," Ms Raymond commented.
"The Primula auricula is one of the flowers that defines the season – its face has a personality and its palette … is a box of jewels – emerald, ruby, gold, silver, amethyst, jade and jet," she continued, adding: "In the early 18th century, groups of florists, usually professional gentlemen, met in pubs to show their auricula plants."