Welcome to the official site of Barnhaven Primroses, the world-renowned primrose specialists for over 75 years. Florence Bellis began her famous hybridizing programme in the USA in the 1930’s and we are still committed to producing seeds and plants using her traditional hand-pollinating methods. We aim to keep the original Barnhaven strains going, to continue her creative work and to spread the enjoyment and delight that comes from growing beautiful primroses. Try our seeds or ready to go plants and experience the magic of Barnhaven for yourselves.
Barnhaven has been in existence as a primula and polyanthus breeder for more than seventy-five years now, and we are very proud of its traditions. Our primulas are grown to be hardy. They are over-wintered on benches in open-sided tunnels which give protection from rain, but leave them exposed to the cold. All our pollinating is done by hand in these tunnels and it takes a fair amount of dedication to spend days at a time with only fingers moving in cold, windy and damp weather. As the pods start to swell, there is a long battle against caterpillars, aphids, rots, birds and mice.
Seed pods are picked singly and it takes skill and experience to harvest at the optimum moment. Once they have dried, seed is extracted from the pods by hand. All seed is stored under refrigeration until the moment of despatch.
The amount of seed we have available varies considerably depending on weather and pollinating factors. There is a minimum number of 35 seeds per packet (except where stated otherwise) but there are usually many more and we try to be generous when we can.
We want you to love our primulas and polyanthus flowers as much as we do and we take enormous care to ensure that your seeds reach you in good condition. Please follow our growing instructions carefully, and please keep your seeds in the fridge if you are not sowing immediately.
Although a major part of our business is seed production, over the last few years we have developed our plant sales so that we now carry good stocks of most series. Our collection of show and garden auriculas has also greatly increased and there is a good selection available.
Barnhaven’s hallmark is a triad of color, lilting grace, with overtones of fragrance. - Florence Bellis, Gardening and Beyond 1986
Barnhaven has been breeding and selecting since the 1930s through four different owners. It all started with a few packets of primrose seeds bought almost by chance by a lady with a vision in Oregon in the United States. Thirty years later an established company crossed the Atlantic to the Lake District in England and then the English Channel where it settled in a small village in Brittany, France. It is a singular story whose common thread is one of a passion for primroses passed on through the various owners who have caught the bug after being introduced to this amazing family of flowers.
Each of the owners has of course had their own vision and interests, but with over 400 species and thousands of varieties there is something for everyone. Yet what each subsequent owner has endeavoured to do is to continue Florence Bellis’s dream of pure colour and perfect form. Each of them has taken up the challenge with plenty of enthusiasm and patience and has believed in the importance of staying true to the first new lines produced by the company’s founder while at the same time introducing new strains and colours.