Primula x tommasinii ‘YOU and ME’ is a free flowering hose-in-hose double primula that constantly blooms from February to June, in nine sparkling clear colors. This 12″ partial shade lover is the hardiest known primrose, flourishing in zone 4. Divide this long-lived perennial every 4–5 years and it will perform vigorously for many years. This rare two-layered primrose blooms in sparkling shades of burgundy and purple, rose and pink, white and cream, as well as yellow, red laced, and burgundy laced. Popular in Elizabethan times, hose-in-hose primroses carry pairs of identical flowers curiously nested one inside the other. The name refers to a style affected by courtiers who wore two pairs of long stockings (hose) at once, folding down the outer pair to reveal the inner. First described in Gerard’s Herbal in 1597, hose-in-hose primroses are among the oldest documented garden flowers. In the late 1800’s, Gertrude Jekyll’s selected white and yellow Munstead hose-in-hose primulas were famed for hardiness and persistent, colorful bloom.
Over the next century, hose-in-hose primroses all but disappeared from commercial horticulture. A few ardent collectors preserved hose-in-hose color strains by vegetative propagation, but each plant yielded only a few offspring and disease progressively weakened the old stock. In the 1930’s and 40’s, Florence Bellis, an Oregon plantswoman was breeding the revolutionary Barnhaven hybrids. Though she developed the first more or less reliable hose-in-hose seed strain, she never achieved better than a 50% success rate with it. Over the past 15 years, a Czech breeding program refined and improved the Bellis seed strain to produce the new F:1 Hose-in-Hose primula seed, available exclusively through Log House Plants in North America.
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