Ever since I was a little girl I have loved auriculas.
I was lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with my Nan, who I adored.
She was a great cook and gardener.
In her garden there was a thick border of purple auriculas with silver, grey leaves.
I so loved these little plants with their pretty little flowers.
The love of these flowers must have stayed with me throughout my life.
As soon as I had a garden of my own I began my search for some auriculas.
At that time they were not easy to find, they must have gone out of fashion.
When I came to live in France I tried to bring many of plants from my garden in England, not easy transporting lots and lots of plants in pots as well as all our other belongings.
In amongst the pots were a few auriculas.
Each year when I go back to England I've tried to find some to bring back - many garden centres had no idea what I was talking about ( so much for so many garden centres that seem to sell nearly everything rather than a GOOD selection of plants )
However I have managed to find a few.
I've divided the plants each year and have managed to grow my collection.
Imagine my delight when at the fete des jardins at La Roche Jagu I met an English man who has lived in France for over twenty years who grows and sells auriculas.
He, like me, had a grandma who was a keen gardener and who also loved auriculas.
The love of them continued with him and now he earns his living growing and selling these beauties.
So I came home last Sunday with four new little plants and now I know where I can go and see more and bring more back here.
I am delighted.
What I need next is for Mr P to build me a theatre !
Yes, a theatre for my 'painted ladies' .
The 'theatre' is an ideal way to keep the plants as they are protected from the rain and too much sun.
Apart from that they just look so lovely.
In the 18th and 19th century people even had curtains on their theatres which they would open to reveal their collection of these beautiful little plants.
I often think of my Nan, how much I learned from her and the nineteen years I was lucky enough to share with her.
I'm sure she'd be happy to see me digging and planting and having a rest sometimes looking at my growing collection of auriculas.
Do you have a particular plant you love ?
Let me know.