April and the sun warm our bones and the soil beneath our feet. This is the time of year my eyes are fixed low to the ground, in deference to reemerging life. Watching the contrasts of lime and deep red shoots reveal against dark brown soil. Followed by delicate dancing flowers breaking fresh and crisp from their latent buds. Growth revived after the winter’s rest. Here is where my plant of choice for this month brings open-faced, pale, butter-yellow joy. The Primrose, flowering and colonising shady spots in our gardens.
Primula vulgaris (the common primula) is a species scattered across western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and parts of southwest Asia. They are best suited to the dappled dry of the woodland floor and do not thrive so well in full sun or on wetter sites. There are Primula candelabra, Primula Vialii and these conversely will fare well in bright marshy conditions and originate from similar growing environments in China.
All of the aforementioned are species primulas and are crossbred and cultivated to give us the hybrid vigour of our loud and proud bedding Primula. Planted for winter interest they look their best now in spring as the heat and daylight stretch on.
Plant these bedding perennials in your garden after you have cleared your pots. Over the years they will flower with more natural colours, their blooms reduce and hybridise with wild or neighbouring primula and you will have a carpet of pinky, cream colour to herald in future springs.
To care for these perennials, they can be divided when they have expanded beyond one central crown after a few years. Lift from the ground and pull apart with two hand forks or cut with a spade. Note: they are very vulnerable to Vine Weevil if you leave them in their containers over the summer. Their fleshy roots, like those of the Heuchera, are almost guaranteed to be chewed clean off by the grubs. However, the flowers are also edible for us. Keep yourself a stock of primroses in open soil, harvest fresh and create candied flowers for a delicate and delicious addition to a spring cake!
With love, Lucie xx
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