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Wild Primroses in the Garden

Wild Primroses in the garden.

There are many jobs for the kitchen garden over April (such as digging potato trenches, raking the soil, planting seeds, potting up and spreading compost) but something pleasant to start with might be a little armchair enjoyment in a primrose plant that grows by itself.

Fortunately, for a kitchen garden, the leaves and flowers of this native wildflower, primula vulgaris, are edible which makes it a perfect addition to the vegetable patch as it can be used in the kitchen - as decorative flowers and leaves that can be enjoyed along with the salads!

This popular woodland flower can be introduced to the garden if there are none already growing there. It might even form the start of an interest in native flowers; observing and recording plants and flowers growing in the garden.

It was this yellow wildflower that captivated the curiosity and wonder of the famous local naturalist based in Kent, Charles Darwin.  It has featured in poems and art for centuries; from watercolour paintings by master artists from the past to more recent wildflower paintings, such as a watercolour and ink illustration of wild flowers (including primroses and a honey bee) that I painted last year. Another botanical drawing last year was this more realistic coloured pencil drawing of primroses, with honey bee added this year, since bees as so fond of primroses and it would be such a shame to leave them out of a painting!

These native wild flowers, often called common primrose or English primrose, are found in many countries around the world.

Wild primroses can grow the broad spectrum of yellow flowers, but it was the ‘brimstone’ yellows that were enjoyed by John Clare in his countryside poem, ‘Primroses’:

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I love the rath primroses pale brimstone primroses

That bloom in the thick wood and i' the green closes

I love the primroses whenever they come

Where the blue fly sits pensive & humble bees hum

The pale brimstone primroses come at the spring

Swept over and fann'd by the wild thrushes wing

Bow'd down to the leaf cover'd ground by the bees

Who sing their spring ballads thro bushes & trees

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Yellow brimstone butterflies arrive back in the garden at around the same time of year, when the sun starts shining, and a garden with splashes of yellow from the daffodils, tulips, forsythia, white blossoms and various other white to yellow blooms - along with the primroses - can evoke all sorts of imaginings that can be found in fairy tales and art.
 
Cicely Mary Barker, another local artist writer, famed for her 'Flower Fairies' was creatively inspired by the wild primroses, and wrote of The Primrose Fairy:

The Primrose opens wide in spring;
Her scent is sweet and good:
It smells of every happy thing
In sunny lane and wood. 


The honey bees love these pretty spring flowers, too!


Wild primroses in the garden to attract more bees
Wild primroses in the garden to attract more bees
Winter-hardy perennial primroses can be grown for a garden filled with pretty yellow flowers that will naturally return each year between February and May, depending on the weather.

A splash of wild primroses amongst damp, moss-covered rocks and gnarled tree roots, or holding together some decomposing logs, bear the early signs of spring and, even on a grey day, a cheerful greeting can be enjoyed from an otherwise fairly dull, dark patch of turf in the garden! And if it's really too dull to go out side, then it's a perfect specimen for a wild flower painting or some nature-writing.

More garden tasks for April coming soon...

Garden blog about setting up a new vegetable garden within a natural wildlife garden, in Kent.

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