Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Primrose - Herald of Spring



I am very fond of the primrose (Latin - prima rosa - first rose of the year) a flower which heralds the coming of spring.  I know they come in a wide range of bright colours, but for me, the pale yellow primrose is the one I prefer.  The bright light when I took these photos makes them look white when they are in fact the palest of lemon.


The primrose is a vital nectar plant in early spring and is pollinated by a range of insects, apparently, particularly the long-tongued Brimstone Butterfly, fresh out of hibernation.


Did you know that April 19th is Primrose Day.  This is the anniversary of the death of the former Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.  The primrose was his favourite flower and Queen Victoria sent him bunches on a regular basis - so the story goes.  According to tradition primrose flowers are laid at his statue by Westminster Abbey on this date every year.


Pinned Image
Primrose Day by Frank Bramley
 Today I visited a garden centre and they had a whole section full of pale yellow primroses, it looked stunning, and on the bargain shelf they had a pack of six plants for £1.50 - and yes, you've guessed it - I snapped them up.  They are easy to split into several plants when they have finished flowering, so my spring border will hopefully be a mass of of these beautifully simple blooms in a few years time.


The primrose was also used in ancient cookery as the chief ingredient of Primrose Pottage, another old dish had rice, almonds, honey, saffron and ground primrose flowers.



In the Language of Flowers the primrose symbolises youth or young love and is said to mean 'I can't live without you'.
The Primrose Fairy
But apart from all the background history, for me it is the simplicity of the flower that I like best - a plant that doesn't mind shade, and can be found growing almost anywhere that is moist,  looking its best in natural surroundings.
O fairest flower
no sooner blown but blasten
soft, silken primrose
fading timelessly

John Milton

42 comments:

  1. too early for primroses down here yet but we do love them also

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    1. The weather has probably held them back - but they are hardy little things.

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  2. I completely agree; pale yellow primroses are a lovely, special flower. I couldn't resist planting several on a bank by one of our hedges. But I didn't realise they were eaten. I'm not tempted to try one, but I wonder what they taste like.

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    1. I wouldn't think they taste of anything much - in the old days it seems they would eat anything which didn't move.

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  3. For me the native primrose is king - same colour slightly different shape.

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    1. I agree but I don't think I've seen any round where we live - I am sure that at one time they were much more common.

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    2. Do you ever pick the flowers - the only ones I grow with long enough stems are the Oxlips.

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  4. I love this post Elaine. I have just bought a pot with several different polyanthus in it.Really makes Spring seem a reality!Looking forward to Monty Don's new series on French Gardens starting Friday week.The pictures you chose are lovely x

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    1. Thanks for the reminder Angela - I shall be watching.

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  5. After seeing these pics, I believe the primrose is the most beautiful of flowers.

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  6. This is a lovely post Elaine. Down here in Devon we've had primroses out for a week or two, and they are keeping me going as harbingers of Spring. They are amongst my most favourite of plants.

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    1. I understand that Devon is reknowned for its primroses - lucky you.

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  7. I love them. They are one of the spring plants that I forget I still have in the garden and then all of sudden there is a flash of colour and I know that spring has arrived. A very satisfying plant.

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    1. I love the fact that when they start flowering they don't know when to stop.

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  8. Just lovely! Very interesting to learn more about these spring flowers. I'll look at them with new eyes now that I've read your post. Nice that you were able to gather a little bit of spring and bring it home with you.

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    1. I like your phrase gather a little bit of spring - that's exactly what it felt like. Now all I have to do is wait for it to stop raining so I can plant them out.

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  9. Lovely post, Elaine. And thanks for the reminder that they don't mind shade. Maybe I'll plant some in my ex-camellia bed (that gets very little sun).

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    1. It is a good thing that they like moist soil as mine is very moist at the moment.

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  10. Lovely post, I bought primroses as tiny plugplants in October and they have been flowering since Christmas in their little pots, I will be planting them out soon :-)

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    1. They certainly are very generous in their flowering habits

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  11. A nice post about a lovely flower which seems to somewhat overlooked nowadays, perhaps as it's considered to be rather old-fashioned. Flighty xx

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    1. That's me all over Flighty - just an old-fashioned girl.

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  12. Lovely primrose post. I too prefere the pale yellow ones, they remind me most of spring is coming. They do extremely well in my moist garden but they flower only from April. Like you did now, I also buy almost every year some plants, they are offered in the garden centres here in great quantities. As a start I put them in pots to show in the conservatory and afterwards I plant them in the garden. Enjoyed ready the story.

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    1. I have some purple ones that are in flower already.

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  13. What a lovely post elaine. I have learnt something today, about this lovely flower, the primrose.
    I love the colours. I have never been good with primroses,but i suppose i could say, because i have never tried.
    I might try them this year. I always leave them in the pot..then they seem to die on me.
    I love the primrose fairy, and poem.
    thank you for sharing this
    wishing you a happy weekend
    val

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  14. What a lovely post! I too love primroses . I had no idea there was a primrose day, I shall celebrate by buying a new one!

    Really enchanting and informative.xxxxx

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    1. I have seen primrose brooches for sale at around that time but didn't realise what was the reason behind it.

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  15. I agree, the pale yellow natives are the very best form of primrose, I hope to be reunited with mine soon and get them planted out - after splitting them... Didn't know the Disraeli story, hard to imagine our current Queen sending flowers to any of the Prime Ministers she has seen in office during her reign!

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  16. So lovely Elaine. I adore primroses too. What an interesting posting. I love hearing some history with the posting. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Thanks Lona - you have a good weekend too.

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  17. I love primroses, too. I have a very similar one to yours that blooms in the early spring. It's flowers are such a relief after a brown, dreary winter. It's common name here is cowslip, which is such a goofy name.

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    1. Coiwslips are a totally different plant here they have a flower which is more like a frilly bell.

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  18. I am very fond of primroses too. They are a bit of a challenge here, because the summers are so dry and the winters so darn cold, but I haven't given up on trying to grow them. What a great bargain you found at the nursery. You can never have too many primroses!

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    1. Such an unassuming little plant that brightens up many a dull day.

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    2. I love those first, creamy primroses - in fact anything light and bright that promises the advent of Spring and better weather. Daffodils, too are beautiful. Lovely photos!
      By the way, Elaine, you have a couple of spam messages on the end of your 'Winter's Treat' post of December 30th. Stupid, ignorant people.

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    3. Thanks for letting me know about the spam - the comments have now been deleted.

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  19. OH it's just a joy to see those pale primroses come into flower at this time of year. Great little nuggets of information about the flower too Elaine.

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    1. Thanks Rosie - thank goodness for the early bloomers.

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