It’s so easy to be tempted by pots of polyanthus primroses (Primula × polyanthus, Zones 3–8) when you are craving spring color. But if you’re tired of buying them and then losing them year after year, you are not alone, according to Carolyn Walker, owner of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, a specialty nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania: “Most of my customers have tried and failed with what I call ‘grocery store’ primroses: those garish-colored, large-flowered plants that give primroses the reputation of being finicky.”
Fortunately, Carolyn has some recommendations for primroses that do thrive in Mid-Atlantic gardens. “Cowslip primrose (Primula veris, Zones 3–8),” she advises, “is very reliable, sending up its beautiful stalks of pale yellow flowers year after year.” Its butter-colored blooms pair beautifully with a variety of spring blues. Carolyn makes a memorable scene in her shady perennial gardens by pairing cowslip primroses with the dainty flowers of…
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