A sure sign that Spring is on the way, this iconic wildflower is welcome sight on banks and in hedgerows. The name primrose derived from the Latin Flor di primavera, meaning the ‘first flower of spring.’
Primroses or Primula vulgaris like to grow in a shady position in moist organic rich soil, flower from March until May. This small perennial grows to about 10cms high has dark green wrinkled leaves that are hairy on the underside, form a basal rosette around the flowers.
Each delicately scented flower consists of five pale yellow notched petals with a darker yellow centre held upright on short wooly stems, make the perfect early nectar source for butterflies.
This edible little flower has both culinary and medicinal benefits. According to Culpeper and Gerard both Tudor herbalists, championed the primrose as a ‘cure all’ for aliments from arthritis and insomnia to headaches and wounds.
According to Scottish legend if you want to see a fairy you must first eat a primrose, and a bunch of these little flowers placed on your doorstep would bless your home, and a further bunch tied to a beam in your cow shed would persuade these same fairies not to steal your milk, hence why the primrose is known as Fairy Cup.
In the 19th Century primroses were extremely popular with the Victorians and often painted by the artists. Queen Victoria and her Prime minister Benjamin Disraeli had a close relationship. The Queen would often send him bunches of Primroses picked at Windsor and Osborne House.
When Prime minster and Statesman Benjamin Disraeli died in April 1881, Queen Victoria sent a wreath of primroses accompanied by a note that read ‘his favourite flowers’. People followed her example and placed flowers in front of Disraeli’s statue in West Minster Abbey, thereby giving the 19th of April the name Primrose Day.