Nature on our doorsteps: The Primrose family
The Cowslips in Tymon Park put on a great display every year

Nature on our doorsteps: The Primrose family

Primroses, Cowslips, and Polyanthus are all members of the Primula family of flowering plants.

These flowers all share the same basic flower shape, with petals that are fused or joined together at the back to form a tube shape.

With Primroses, there is one flower on a graceful arching stem while with Polyanthus and Cowslips, flowers are clustered together at the tip of a stout stem.

The Latin name Primula translates as ‘prime rose’, to describe this lovely flower as being the first flower of spring.

Primroses can sometimes be seen in flower in sheltered spots as early as January.

Because of their charm and their delicate perfume, the flowers of wild Primroses and Cowslips were once widely picked in the past to decorate homes, schools, and churches at Easter time.

Wild Primroses herald the arrival of springtime

In Britain, they were also extensively picked throughout the countryside and sold to the London flower markets.

This had the effect of reducing the numbers of these springtime flowers in the wild.

Yellow Primroses and Cowslips have been cultivated and bred for centuries, giving rise to many new and unusual colour variations and hybrids.

Polyanthus is one of these hybrids, with some very unusual mixes of colours emerging to brighten the garden in springtime.

Somehow, however, the original, delicate yellow of the wild Primrose is hard to beat.

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