In earliest spring, primroses awaken the garden with bright, jewel-toned blossoms. They are among the most enduring, long-lived plants that author Sydney Eddison knows.
A love of primroses is part and parcel of being English. And I am half-English. My mother came from the southwestern part of England, where primroses (Primula vulgaris) once grew in abundance. Stitched into the floral tapestry of damp meadows and tucked among the roots of trees, the pale yellow flowers were familiar to every country child of my mother’s generation. Today, due to increasing development of their natural habitat, primroses are fewer in number. But these spring wildflowers still hold gentle sway over Britons of all ages.
Sadly, my mother died before I began working on my primrose garden, and her American springs remained primrose-less. However, her vivid descriptions of home and of this beloved flower made a lasting impression on me. Sight unseen, it had cast a spell on me. Upon meeting my first wild primrose in Yorkshire, England, many years later, I was overcome with nostalgia.
Since that time, I have discovered a vast world of primroses. There are more than 400 species of Primula distributed all over the world, primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. Although my mother never imagined the richness of this large genus, she would have been thrilled by its beauty and variety.