Even before the Daffodils burst into their sunshine display the bright flowers of the Primrose family are a cheering sight, making fun of the winter gloom by flowering tenaciously. The Primulaceae actually comprise nearly 1,000 species which include wild Primrose, Primula, and Auricula. Not all flower this early but those that do are very welcome.
I particularly like our native Primrose “Primula vulgaris” with its delicate yellow flowers. This is very hardy and may flower before Christmas although cold snaps can scorch the flowers slightly.
Primula veris is the Cowslip which is not so common in the wild these days but is a good hardy subject for a wild flower area in the garden.
Polyanthus are Primroses that have been hybridised. They can be grown from seed or bought in flower and they come in an enormous range of bright colours from deep pinks and purples to reds and vivid yellows. They are usually grown as biennials. Hungry birds sometimes peck at the flowers but for some reason tend to avoid the blue ones.
The candelabra Primula are those whose flowers appear tiered on a taller stem. The flowers are often very dainty and attractive and colours range from pale pink to crimson.
Auriculas come in three types, alpines, border Auriculas and show plants. Show Auriculas are grown by enthusiasts under glass and have the most striking flowers with rounded petals and a distinctive white eye in the centre. Some also have an outer ring of colour on the edge of the petals. These plants have been popular since the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. They even look like Victorian ladies, glamorous, delicate and a bit repressed.
The great thing is that there are Primula to suit all sorts of garden conditions. So give them a whirl.