Posted: Monday 26 March 2012
by James Alexander-Sinclair

The primroses are flowering. Not the generally ghastly multi-coloured garden centre apologies for primroses, but the real things.

Primrose flower and bud

The primroses are flowering. Not the generally ghastly multi-coloured garden centre apologies for primroses, but the real things.

Our primroses sparsely populate the grassy bank by the washing line, which is there to house all the little things that might get lost amongst the border plants. Apart from a few snowdrops, this is first splash of flowers of the year there.

The primroses will be followed by some snake's head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), cowslips and a scattering of little daffodils, before the grass becomes too long and the buttercups and vetch take over. The two highlights are the fritillaries (which we count every day - last year there were 17, so not exactly a miraculous carpet) and the primroses (which definitely get more numerous every year).

One of the interesting things about primroses is that they produce two different sorts of flower. These are called called pin flowers and thrum flowers. Without getting too botanical (in which case I would get a bit flustered as my botany is extremely basic, as befits someone with a Grade D in ‘O’ Level biology) the pin flower has short stamens and a long pistil, while this is reversed in the thrum flowers.

Two pin flowers cannot fertilise each other. Although primroses have hermaphrodite flowers, one sort of flower is needed to pollinate the other. Enough science: suffice to say that if you look closely at wild primroses, you will see two different flower shapes. In fact, even if you don’t give a fig about the fertilisation habits of the flower, you should look closely anyway, for you will undoubtedly be both charmed by the colour and captivated by the very delicate scent.

And, apparently, primroses can conjure fairies from rocks. I always try to be diligent and research exhaustively on behalf of you, the readers of this blog. So, on your behalf I tried this out, using a conveniently handy half brick. Sadly, nothing happened apart from my getting an odd look from one of my children.

Maybe another day.

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Pablo 30/03/2012 at 09:43

I look forwards to reading your comments and looking at your wonderfull photos each month in Gardeners' World magazine - so much so that I have been inspired to begin my own garden journal in 'A garden for Pablo' blog.

Keep up the inspiring good work.


Ronniekav 20/04/2012 at 18:37

I too have primroses in flower. However, I love the bright ones also, at this time of year they bring welcome splashes of colour to my rather bland garden.

Palaisglide 20/04/2012 at 18:59

Looking out of the bedroom window this morning the primroses edging the border looked wonderful. They are natural I was given one plant years ago and have split it year on year until there is a complete row of them all doing well. That to me is what gardening is, something for "nowt" then bring it on until you have more than you need then give them away to others.