When you are my age you think you have seen it all. But I have a new favorite thing—the auricula theater. They’re so whimsical and wonderful I can’t believe I have never seen one in real life. I’ve read about them and seen photographs. And they are exactly what they sound like: a kind of stage for potted auriculas. Because apparently auriculas (a type of primrose) are quite the divas. Their blooms are exquisite and delicate, and they will not tolerate direct sun or wind or rain.
Thus the showcasing and shelter of the theater.
Originally from the mountainsides of Europe, auriculas have been collected, cultivated, and coveted since the 1500s. Then some imaginative soul came up with the idea of a theater for these showstoppers (this happened in the 1700s). The theaters can be simple or elaborate, and to this day auriculas have starring roles in flower shows (plant collectors, like Simon Lockyer, win trophies for their auriculas and have dedicated their life to them).
Vita Sackville-West had a small auricula theater made at Sissinghurst (above). And each spring for the last four years The New York Botanical Gardens opens its auricula theater designed by garden historian The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury (below).
I am determined to have one (bought or built). Even if I’m not successful with the fickle auricula, imagine the possibilities of the theater.